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Assurances given Welshpool High School will be kept informed of school proposals

Welshpool High School (Pic: Phil Blagg PB073-2018-4)

ASSURANCES have been given that Welshpool High School governors and staff will be kept abreast of developments on potential major changes to primary schools in the area.

Powys County Council has published it’s “preferred way forward” to transform education in the “Llanfyllin and North Welshpool” catchment area – which is expected to be agreed by cabinet next Tuesday, September 26.

The strategy is not new as similar proposals were discussed during the last council administration term.

These were shelved in March 2022 ahead of the local elections in May that year.

The concerns in Welshpool is that one of its feeder primary schools in the village of Arddleen is part of transformation proposals which could see it become part of a larger area school.

Arddleen Primary School (Pic: Google Streetview)

This would see a possible merger with Carregfhofa (Llanymynech) Llandysilio (Four Crosses) primary schools with children from Crew Green’s Bryn Hafren primary school which is earmarked to close, expected to go there.

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But finding the land and money to develop an area primary school are still a long way off.

The proposals were examined at a meeting of the council’s Learning and Skills committee on Wednesday, September 20.

Committee chairman, Conservative Cllr Gwynfor Thomas gave special permission for Welshpool Llanerchydol’s Cllr Graham Breeze of the Independent group, who is also a High School governor to speak at the meeting.

Cllr Graham Breeze

Cllr Breeze said he had been “bombarded over the weekend” by questions on the proposals that had “appeared” with little warning.

Cllr Breeze said:  “Welshpool High School has been ignored completely in the process so far.

“As a governor it was extremely embarrassing to have fellow governors and high school staff hear of these proposals by the press before I had seen sight (of them).

“That’s really unprofessional and I’m sure many of the other local members were in the same boat as me.

“Some of the schools are clearly in the Welshpool catchment area, Arddleen in particular.

“Changes to that catchment would be very damaging to Welshpool High School.

“It’s really disappointing to have reached this stage without discussion taking place with school governors.

“I want assurances from this day forward that Welshpool High School will be involved at every stage.

He added that he expected to see “detailed evidence” in future reports on what the impact loss and gain of pupils would for both Welshpool and Llanfyllin High Schools but also Llanfyllin.

School transformation manager Marianne Evans said:  “We are very aware that those three schools go to different (high school) catchment areas.

“Should they come together we will have to try and understand how pupil numbers impact on the high schools.”

Ideas could see schools merge and operate as one school from the three current sites before a new school is built.

This could mean having a “split catchment” for the high schools.

Ms Evans said: “At the movement there are no proposals for those three school it’s simply and exploration of options.

“There are a number of things we need to understand and I assure you Welshpool High School will be part of those discussions.”