So the County Council has a new plan for secondary education in Powys - which is just about the same as the original plan, despite all the protests. Here's what John Fitzgerald, who has been leading the group against the closure of the school, has to say:
"21 Jan 2016 — I have been rather quite of late as we have been waiting to see what the Powys Review would recommend. Now we know. A letter sent to the school today states that:
• To establish a new build 11-16 English -medium secondary school in Brecon, replacing Gwernyfed High School and Brecon High School
Some of the reasons for this draft recommendation are as follows:
- This option will create a critical mass of pupils that meets the Authority’s agreed minimum threshold of 600 pupils at KS3 and KS4
- The option provides an opportunity for learners to have a broader post-16 curriculum in a single location, and removes the need for inter-school/college transport;
- It improves cost-effectiveness and efficiency, also eliminating current maintenance costs on both schools
- The model will reduce overall surplus places
However, we are aware that there will need to be a significant capital development to implement this recommendation, therefore we are proposing an interim recommendation which is:
"- To establish a new English-medium 11 – 16 secondary school that will operate from the current sites of Gwernyfed High School and Brecon High School from September 2017. This would involve the closure of both schools.
In accordance with Stage 2 (vi) of the School Review Process contained within the Schools Transformation Policy 2014, the governing body, head teacher and local member are invited to attend a feedback meeting to be held at 5:00pm on Tuesday 26th January. The purpose of the meeting will be to consider the draft recommendations of the SORP, and to provide a further opportunity for the governing body to present additional evidence. The meeting will be held in the Council Chamber, County Hall, Llandrindod Wells. "
Effectively, it is the same closure plan wrapped up in different words. Effectively the local authority is saying they do not give a damn about the 10 communities which will be effected.
The head and governors have to attend a meeting with the strangely named SORP group (jargon for something) and then will have to decide whether they are prepared to fight or cave in but if they are going to fight they have to stop being to "nice". I am away for three weeks and not sure at the moment what I will be able to do until I am back.
The school reps have to attend a meeting at the LA on 26 January if you would like to let the County Council know what you think send an email to : email@example.com"
And here's what the group Save Powys Schools, on Facebook, has to say:
"Powys seem to be going for the total meltdown of education in the county. News filtering out from both the Llandod/Builth secondary schools and Gwernyfed/Brecon indicates that the 'transformation' team are proposing to close all four and set up 'one school on two sites' in both cases from September 2017. This is an 'interim' recommendation while they get together the 'significant capital development' needed for new buildings. So in both cases students could be spending years in a dogs' breakfast of 'one school on two sites' while they wait for the money - of which certainly in the case of Llandod and Builth there is at present not a sniff. Whole cohorts could come and go as they wait.
This is quite apart from the destruction of some perfectly good schools, some (including this writer) would say wonderful ones.
I have asked for information about the amount of money which will be saved and the number of teaching and non-teaching jobs which will be lost.
All of this is driven by cuts, which Powys seem determined to push through while justifying them on wholly spurious 'educational' grounds. Meanwhile people's lives are irreparably damaged and communities left bereft.
Why aren't Powys fighting with us to save our schools instead of attempting to justify this nonsense? We must stick together and defend our schools!"
I was chatting to the chap at Beer Revolution this morning, and he's very concerned. He said that, if Gwernyfed School closes, his family will be seriously thinking of moving away from the area - so that would be one business less in Hay.