Wales

Pontypridd schools shake-up given final approval

Protest against school closures in Pontypridd Image copyright LDRS
Image caption Protesters made their views known at council HQ in Clydach Vale

A controversial £37m schools reorganisation in the south Wales valleys has been given final approval, despite widespread opposition.

Rhondda Cynon Taf's Labour cabinet voted to press ahead with plans for the Pontypridd area despite 435 objections.

There will be two new "super schools" for children aged three to 16, plus a new Welsh-medium school in Rhydyfelin, as nine schools and sixth forms close.

Some parents claim their children will have to travel further for lessons.

Council leaders say they need to cut spare places to save money and promise the quality of lessons will improve.

Campaign group Our Children First disputes the evidence on performance and spare places and claims consultation has been inadequate, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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 - to be decided by Welsh Government

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

Plaid Cymru councillor Heledd Fychan, who represents Pontypridd, urged council leaders to "listen to people's concerns and to take them seriously".

"The council has not collaborated and people are not involved in decisions," she said.

Councillor Fychan claimed some parents were now choosing English-medium education instead of Welsh because of the closure of Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Pont Sion Norton.

Mike Powell, Liberal Democrat councillor for Trallwng, claimed the closure of some sixth forms was "discriminatory", while independent councillor Stephen Belzak from Cilfynydd warned of extra traffic on the A470 exposing pupils to pollution.

Supporting the changes, director of education Gaynor Davies said there were too many small and unviable sixth forms unable to retain their pupils.

She claimed the new Welsh-medium school would contribute towards the target of having a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

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

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