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Caerphilly Education Politics South Wales

Dwindling pupil numbers to blame for proposal to close down infants school

Cwm Glas Infants School in Llanbradach (Pic: Google)

AN INFANTS school in Llanbradach has moved one step closer to closing its doors for good.

The council’s education and social services scrutiny committee agreed on Tuesday (September 12) to back a report calling for the closure of Cwm Glas Infants School in July 2024 – the end of the current academic year.

Falling pupil numbers have been blamed, and a council report said the school can “no longer maintain a balanced budget and an appropriate staffing level”.

Caerphilly County Borough Council’s cabinet will next open up the plans for consultation before making a final decision.

Cwm Glas’ headteacher has already informed parents of the school’s likely closure.

The council’s proposal is to move learning to the nearby Coed y Brain Primary School. The two share a catchment area and already have close links, because many Cwm Glas pupils go there for Year 3.

The school, which has pupils aged aged between three and seven, has just 33 children, against a capcity of 57 places.

Many classrooms are nearly half-empty and the council estimates surplus places would be higher than 50% if it stayed open for the start of the new school year in September 2024.

Speaking at the scrutiny committee, councillor Carol Andrews, Caerphilly’s cabinet member for education, said a meeting between the council, governors and headteacher had agreed “the school could no longer maintain a budget balance”.

More than half of pupils attending Cwm Glas are from outside the school’s catchment area.

Cllr Brenda Miles asked what was attracting people to the school.

Andrea West, the council’s sustainable communities for learning manager, said parents were not required to say why they had chosen a particular school for their children, but that pupils outside the immediate catchment area still live “within two or three miles” of Cwm Glas.

Cllr Donna Cushing sought assurances pupils would be able to attend Coed y Brain school if the closure went ahead.

“There is provision in Coed y Brain to accommodate the pupils… but obviously it would be subject to parental preference [where they decide to relocate their children],” Ms West said.

Responding to a question to Cllr Brenda Miles, chief education officer Keri Cole said Cwm Glas had been “successful” in its most recent school inspection, winning praise “in particular for care, support and guidance”.

Cllr Miles said it was a “shame if they’re having a good inspection report, to then contemplate closing the school, but of course I take on board… the rationale and the reasons for that”.