Schools set to close putting Teacher’s jobs on the line

Council offices, Aberaeron Photo - Humphrey Bolton

Ceredigion County Council, Aberaeron
Photo – Humphrey Bolton

A GROUP of primary and a sixth-form schools across Ceredigion are facing closure after a series of local education shake ups were announced by the County Council.

It has been suggested by the Council that due to smaller student numbers, primary school students from Llandewi Brefi and another Tregaron school could be amalgamated into a single larger school.

In a statement, Ceredigion County Council announced that the future of primary schools at Dihewyd, Penuwch and Trefilig will also be discussed as part of the consultation process.

The three schools all have less than 20 students each.

Llandewi Brefi School, which has 43 pupils, recently had support from comedian Matt Lucas to fight the potential closure. Lucas, one half of the Little Britain comedy duo, set one of his sketches in the village. Lucas commented in June of this year saying that the schools continued operation was important to “support the community”.

Councillor Rhodri Evans for Llandewi Brefi said of the move: “There has been a lot of opposition to the closure plans in all the communities affected. “Schools are the heart of a community and if they close it is to that community’s detriment. People come to live in a community because it has a school and that school gives a community life.”

It was explained that there are 1000 fewer school children in the county than ten years ago, and as a result costs per pupil have risen. Potentially all five primary schools could be closed.

A Ceredigion County Council spokesperson commented that the Council’s priority is “providing a sustainable and successful three-to-16 education system in Tregaron area”.

It has recently been revealed that the sixth-form campus at Tregaron Secondary and the jobs that go with it could also be axed as part of a further local education shake up of the allocation of funding.

Due to the change Councillors will have to find savings of £210,000. “It is inevitable that the delivery of post-16 education in Ceredigion will alter as a result of this funding reduction” a Ceredigion County Council spokesperson said. “This is likely to result in the equivalent of five full-time teaching posts being lost to the county.”

The funding awarded to Ceredigion would be reduced by 5.33%, which although not the highest reduction, is above the national average. However, a government source made it clear that the total amount of funding for sixth form education in Wales has not changed, commenting: “A new planning and funding framework has been implemented that is based on the number of learners in sixth forms and the average staying on rates”.

The source reiterated that “any reduction in funding for a local authority is primarily due to demographic changes and not budgetary cuts.”