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Ysgol Bro Teifi officially opened

Ysgol Bro Teifi: New school in Llandysul

combined primary and secondary Welsh-medium

WALES’ first purpose-built community

school was officially opened by Kirsty Williams in Llandysul on Wednesday (Sept 29). This new concept for education

in the area is the result of six years of feasibility studies and consultation by both the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Education Programme and Ceredigion County Council.

Designed in conjunction with

teachers, pupils and education advisers, the state-of-the art facility links all phases of learning on a single site, providing 60 reception/nursery places, 360 primary places and 678 secondary places. Ysgol Bro Teifi is the result of

the merger of Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi secondary school with Aberbanc, Coed y Bryn, Pontsian and Llandysul primary schools. Ysgol Bro Teifi will provide pupils of all ages with a truly 21st century education experience. The school has separate ‘wings’

whereby higher and lower schools are not in the same space at any one time. However, the design allows the entire school to access the very latest equipment and facilities, from the astro-turf sports field to the stage, lighting, bleacher seating and drama studio, green room and recording studio. The local community will also

have access to the school’s 450 seat performance facility, sports facilities and recording studio. Cabinet Secretary for Education,

Kirsty Williams, said: “It’s too easy to think of schools today as serving a single purpose - a place where teachers teach and students learn. An integrated, focused school like this is more akin to a smart phone. The school and community can connect, collaborate, and create.

“Bro Teifi really is a community

school in the broadest sense. The array of facilities available for both the pupils and public alike has created a school that invites you in and I’m delighted to formally open it today.” Headteacher Robert Jenkins

said: “As a school community, we’re delighted to take ownership of our new school and greatly appreciate the investment and support provided by the Welsh Government and Ceredigion County Council. “Both staff and pupils were

integral to the decisions made during the initial design consultation and the subsequent implementation of these ideas and are now thrilled with the result. “It is a truly innovative facility

that will enhance our ability to provide our pupils with a truly integrated learning journey. Being under one roof has already enhanced our mutual understanding of the strengths and needs across the sectors and the advantages of being able to share resources, both physically in terms of equipment and with regards to staffing, are beginning to enrich our pupils’ learning experiences.” Council Leader Ellen ap Gwynn

said: “I am especially grateful to the Welsh Government for their support via the 21st Century Schools Programme. Without this support, it would not have been possible for this project to come to fruition. “As the first school of its kind in

Wales, this is an example of Ceredigion leading the way, by providing an innovative school of the highest quality to meet modern educational needs for pupils in the local district, as well as for generations to come. “I have every confidence that

Ysgol Bro Teifi will make an important contribution towards the excellent provision of education that is being offered in Ceredigion.”

Cilcennin school: under fire with lowest number of pupils in area A KEY council committee

has declined to place the current reorganisation of schools on hold, pending a clarification of Welsh Government policy on smaller rural schools. At a meeting of the Learning

Communities Scrutiny Committee, which had earlier this year asked for further and better evidence to support the council’s plans for Dyffryn Aeron, it emerged that hastily arranged preliminary consultation meetings and a request for responses with a closing date in the summer vacation attracted only 41 individual responses. The overwhelming majority of those

responses was negative, with many making the specific criticism that the presentation at informal consultations of only the third option, which would lead to the closure of four schools, suggested that what was being presented to the public was a done deal. However, the Committee elected to effectively disregard the responses it received from the public. The fact that only one option was

presented at the preliminary consultation, which has no statutory force, puts the lie to the assurances given to this paper by Cllr Hag Harries in June of this year, when he said: “No decision has been made about whether or not we create an area school.” One particular plea was taken up by

Llanfarian Ward Councillor Alun Lloyd Jones. Recorded in the responses from

the meetings and the paper preliminary exercise Ceredigion was a ‘call on the council to postpone any further decisions in relation to educational provision in the county in order to allow the new Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams, to review the current policy on surplus places with emphasis on rural schools’.

Cllr Jones, with the support of

Council Chair Dai Mason, vigorously pressed that the Committee take note of that objection, and present the option of a moratorium on any discussion of school closures, pending clarification of the Welsh Government’s policy. Kirsty Williams has significant ‘form’ for objecting to small schools being closed/ merged/reorganised out of existence. Cllr Jones told the meeting that it

was ‘reckless’ to press ahead with closing small schools if there was the possibility of a change of tack from the Government, which is driving the closures. In fact, Education Secretary Kirsty

Williams met with Cymdeithas yr Iaith representatives over the summer and told them that she wanted to move away from a presumption of closing small schools, and wanted more focus to be put on assessing the effects of their closure on rural communities. Cllr Jones said councillors who

refused to countenance a moratorium ‘should hang their heads in shame’.

THE ‘OPTIONS’ After announcing its plans for

schools in Dyffryn Aeron in May this year, the County Council has proceeded with preliminary consultations on four options for schools in the area: Option 1: Continue the status quo

of 10 schools in the catchment area of Aberaeron Option 2: Discontinue Cilcennin

School (which has the lowest number of pupils and the highest percentage of vacancies) Option 3: Establish a new area in

the Aeron Valley School on Felinfach Professional Education Centre site (for pupils Ciliau Park, Cilcennin, Dihewyd and Felinfach)

3 News Call for school closure moratorium fails Option 4: Construction of a new area

in the Aeron Valley School at the central site (for pupils Ciliau Park, Cilcennin, Dihewyd and Felinfach) Campaigner Ffred Ffrancis said

when the council unveiled its plans: “It is obvious they do not want to consider the first two options - which allows the continuation of the current regime or closing only one school - and it is clear that they have no funds to implement the fourth option, a new large building. Why, then, do they not honestly say they are in favour of their ‘third option’ concentrating much of primary education at the Felinfach Professional Education Centre, with four village communities being deprived of their schools?” The County Council has since

confirmed the suspicions enunciated by Mr Ffransis by identifying option three as its preferred option for Dyffryn Aeron’s schools. Cymdeithas called for the

incremental increase in use of the Felinfach site as a cultural centre and the retention of the threatened schools in a federated structure. A spokesperson for Ceredigion

County Council told The Herald: ‘The Learning Communities Scrutiny Committee made the following recommendation: ‘Establish a new area school in the Aeron Valley located on the Professional Education Centre campus, Felinfach (for the pupils of Ciliau Parc, Cilcennin, Dihewyd and Felinfach), whilst in the meantime heeding any guidelines which may emanate from the Welsh Government office for the Cabinet Secretary for Education, who is currently undertaking a review of surplus school places. ‘The committee’s recommendation

will be presented to Cabinet in due course.’

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