Wales

Powys council bosses quizzed on Ysgol Calon Cymru troubles

School classroom Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Council bosses said the school was not the only one "struggling" with deficits

A Powys secondary school is facing a financial and leadership crisis less than a year after it opened.

Ysgol Calon Cymru was created from a merger of high schools in Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells last September.

Acting heads are in place at each site after head teacher Ionwen Spowage left at Easter and the school is already set to go nearly £450,000 into the red.

Council bosses said "teething issues" were to be expected and other schools were also "struggling" with deficits.

Councillors heard nearly a third of the 93 schools in Powys were unable to balance the books, with debts totalling nearly £4m, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

'Not financially viable'

Last year, Builth Wells and Llandrindod High Schools became campuses of Ysgol Calon Cymru under one head teacher and one governing body.

Their closing deficits totalling nearly £1.4m were written off, but the new school is already projected to overspend by nearly £450,000 this year, nearly £1.3m in 2020/21 and over £2.3m by 2021/22, councillors heard.

Councillor Angela Davies, vice-chair of the learning and skills scrutiny committee, asked why a new school was created "which was not financially viable".

"It's necessary to understand how this happened," she said.

"What is being done to resolve the matter? And what lessons can be learned to avoid it happening again?"

Head of education Dr Alec Clark, who is leaving Powys for a job in England, said: "You would expect that there would be some teething issues with a new school.

"It was a new model to try and do, but the deficit is very early in the life of the school.

"However they are not on their own, being a secondary school that's struggling with deficits."

Myfanwy Alexander, Powys cabinet member in charge of education, said she had more answers to the issues at Ysgol Calon Cymru, but was not willing to discuss them in a public forum.

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