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Closure of Irfon Valley primary school near Builth Wells confirmed

Irfon Valley Primary School in Garth has been recommended to close on August 31, 2024 (Pic: Google Streetview)

THE DECISION to close a Powys primary school near Builth Wells this summer is “no reflection on the staff there”, an education chief has said.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, March 19 councillors received a report on the legal period for objections raised to the proposal to close Irfon Valley primary school which is in Garth between Builth Wells and Llangammarch Wells.

Pupil numbers at the school have dropped to 19 this academic year when there were 43 children there in January 2023.

The figures are projected to drop further to 14 from next September.

Education portfolio holder Cllr Pete Roberts explained that this “statutory report” is the final stage in process and follows a 28 day period when objections challenging the closure can be submitted to the council.

School’s transformation manager Marianne Evans told councillors that no objections to the school closure had been received during the four week period which ran from February 2 to March 1.

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Director of education Lynette Lovell said: “When we went down to the consultation meeting it was clear the staff there have given many years of service and one had gone through five Estyn inspections in that school which were all successful and good.

“The work of the staff at the school has been good and the children at this school have had a good education.

She thanked the staff and governors for their efforts.

Cllr Lynette Lovell, Powys County Council’s Director Of Education

Cllr Roberts said: “I’d like to add my thanks to the governors, staff, parents and pupils.

“This is a school that has served its community well over many years the decline in pupil numbers is no reflection on the school or teaching staff.

“It’s a sad reality is that many of our schools are at the point where they are close to the statutory minimum (10 pupils).

“With that in mind the situation remains, and nothing has changed.”

He read out the recommendation to close the school from August 31 with pupils expected to their nearest alternative school.

The decision also means that any changes to staffing, contracts or budget will be made by the council and not the school for the remainder of the school year.

Cabinet members voted unanimously to close the school.

The proposal to close the school had come out of the blue – and follows the school governors approaching the council for help last summer.

It was found that the main problem was a lack of after school club and the convenience that gives parents saw children move other nearby schools where this is provided.

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