Pontypridd schools shake-up backed despite protests

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image captionProtesters against school closures gathered at council HQ in Clydach Vale

A £37m shake-up of schools in the south Wales valleys has been backed by council bosses despite opposition.

The latest changes in Rhondda Cynon Taf will see six schools and three sixth forms close in the Pontypridd area.

Two new schools for pupils aged three to 16 will be built, a new Welsh medium primary and two sixth form centres.

Council leaders said it would improve the quality of education but protesting parents claimed pupils faced longer journeys to school.

Joy Rosser, the cabinet member for education, said: "We want to provide quality learning experiences for pupils with access to 21st Century resources.

"We can't remain static in an evolving world, change is inevitable."

Robert Bevan, cabinet member for enterprise development, added that similar earlier changes in the Rhondda valley were proving to be a success despite similar initial objections.

Schools closing

  • Pontypridd High School
  • Cilfynydd Primary School
  • Hawthorn Primary School
  • Hawthorn High School
  • Heol-y-Celyn Primary School
  • Pont Sion Norton Welsh-medium primary school
  • Hawthorn High School sixth form
  • Pontypridd High School sixth form
  • Cardinal Newman RC Comprehensive sixth form

New schools

  • Pontypridd for three to 16-year-olds
  • Hawthorn for three to 16-year-olds
  • Welsh-medium primary on the site of Heol-y-Celyn
  • Sixth form centre at Bryncelynnog Comprehensive, Beddau
  • Sixth form centre at Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw

However, many parents protesting outside the meeting were concerned about their children having to travel further to school.

Lowri Chinnock-Davies said the closure of Pont Sion Norton Welsh-medium primary school would mean her children "spending more than an hour on the bus" travelling to and from a new school two miles away.

"We think it's important to keep local Welsh language education in the community where children are living," she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Meanwhile Sally Churchill, a governor at Pontypridd High School, branded the decision to close its sixth form a "stitch-up" which would divert resources away from a disadvantaged area.

Jo Warner, head of sixth form at Hawthorn High School, claimed colleagues were "visibly upset" by a report which they did not think showed a true picture of their work.

The council wants the changes to take effect by the end of August 2022.

The decisions will now be subject to a formal 28-day period for objections, which ends on 10 May.

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