Cyflwynwyd gan:Cyng / Cllr. Cemlyn Williams
Permission was granted to undertake a statutory consultation, in accordance with the requirements of section 48 of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013, on the proposal to close Ysgol Abersoch on 31 August 2021 and to provide a place for the pupils at Ysgol Sarn Bach from 1 September 2021 onwards.
Submitted by Cllr Cemlyn Williams
Permission was granted to hold a statutory consultation, in accordance with the requirements of section 48 of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013, on the proposal to close Ysgol Abersoch on 31 August 2021 and to provide a place for the pupils at Ysgol Sarn Bach from 1 September 2021 onwards.
The report was submitted, emphasising that there was no pleasure in bringing a report of this kind to the Cabinet for discussion. It was noted that the Cabinet's duty to ensure good education and experiences for all children in Gwynedd was at the root of this report.
It was emphasised that, in September 2019, the Cabinet had determined to commence discussions with the school's Governors and stakeholders to consider various options following a reduction in the school's pupil numbers. They were thanked for their contribution to the discussion. Attention was drawn to the Fit for Purpose Education Principles accepted by the Cabinet in December 2018, emphasising the two principles that were in-keeping with the report. It was emphasised that the report was comprehensive and that the department would continue to receive further observations during the statutory period.
The Dwyfor/Meirionnydd Area Education Officer added that the discussion held thus far had been looking at potential options in order to ensure a viable provision for the future. He emphasised that work had been carried out by the stakeholders to set up a Cylch Meithrin and to extend childcare in light of the discussion that had been held. The options discussed with the stakeholders were emphasised, noting that work had been carried out to discuss them. It was noted that the option favoured by the Officers was to close the school and move the pupils to Ysgol Sarn Bach. If the decision was approved today, it was noted that the statutory consultation would commence within the coming weeks. It was emphasised that there had been a delay in the process and, consequently, the department would re-visit some of the impact assessments.
The Local Member expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to join the meeting today to contribute to the discussion, which was so important to the ward. He also thanked the department for delaying the process as a result of the Headteacher's personal circumstances. It was emphasised that the Governors had circulated information to the Cabinet Members, and the Local Member noted that he had received many letters of support to the School from all parts of the county. He expressed that the pupil numbers had reduced in a short amount of time and unexpectedly, and that the Education Department had moved to discuss the school very quickly following the reduction in numbers. Since the initial discussion, he noted that the numbers had started to increase and he emphasised the good work of the staff, who had since set up Ti a Fi sessions as well as an Ysgol Feithrin on the school site.
The Local Member expressed his support to changing the school's age range to 3-9 years old, as this would have no impact on Ysgol Sarn Bach. Attention was drawn to the capacity numbers that were included in the report, noting that this number was irrelevant as the school had never had 42 children. He noted that in the current situation, it would be very difficult to hold a fair and prudent consultation as a result of Covid-19, and that it was unfair to continue with the consultation work during this time.
Observations arising from the discussion
¾ It was emphasised that the decision today was whether to proceed to statutory consultation to look at closing the school, and not a decision to close the school.
The importance of obtaining the observations of the local member and the governors was noted, and a question was asked as to how a fair discussion could be ensured during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Education Department noted that the organisation code was clear and did not definitively define how to hold a consultation. It was added that the Department was willing to hold a collective meeting and these would be held virtually. It was noted that observations needed to be submitted in writing, and that the meetings would provide an opportunity for stakeholders, parents, governors and staff to ask questions. It was also expressed that the Education Department was willing to facilitate the local discussions prior to the meetings with the Department should the need arise..
Awdur:Gwern ap Rhisiart