Mid Wales

Powys secondary schools closure plan U-turn recommended

Brecon High School Image copyright Google
Image caption The council planned to close the Welsh stream at Brecon High School and have it delivered at the Builth Wells campus

Plans to close two schools and create a single 11-16 school in Powys should be abandoned, a report has said.

Powys council has proposed shutting Gwernyfed and Brecon high schools and establishing one secondary school.

But the council report now recommends investing in a new campus at Brecon and improving the Gwernyfed site instead.

Meanwhile, a proposal to replace Builth Wells and Llandrindod high schools with one 11-18 secondary school will also be considered by councillors.

The plans follow a wide-ranging consultation earlier this year.

Cabinet member for schools, councillor Arwel Jones, said: "It was clear to anyone who attended the consultation meetings in Gwernyfed and Brecon that the plans for a single 11-16 school operating on one site in Brecon were not supported.

"Although there are many benefits for a larger 11-16 school in Brecon, it is not the right solution for the area and that is clear from the consultation responses.

"The communities have spoken and we have listened and are abandoning our plans for a single school on one site."

Estyn, the education watchdog also dealt a major blow to the plans for Gwernyfed and Brecon.

In its response to the Powys consultation, Estyn said the proposal was unlikely to improve the current standard of education in the area.

Specifically, Estyn said it did not "sufficiently consider standards currently achieved at both schools or demonstrate how the changes will lead to improved standards in relation to pupils' outcomes or the leadership and management of the new school".

"It does not consider sufficiently the risks involved in the proposal, particularly given the short timescales of its proposals," it added.

Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph
Image caption If supported, the Builth Wells campus of the school would be dual-stream and deliver English and Welsh-medium education

The council will also be asked to give its views on plans to close Builth Wells and Llandrindod high schools, and create one school operating over the two existing sites from September 2017.

More than 600 pupils, parents and teachers have previously protested against the proposal.

But Mr Jones said it would "streamline and improve the leadership structure" at both schools, which are in special measures.

Both recommendations will be debated by full council on 8 September, before being considered by cabinet on 27 September.

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