THE future of faith schools in Denbighshire looks like it will be changing radically in the near future.
There were passionate scenes outside county hall in Ruthin yesterday as more than a hundred campaigners turned up in support of St Brigid’s School.
As the cabinet meeting began chants of “save our school” could be clearly heard inside the meeting room.
At the packed cabinet meeting it was decided to drop plans to merge St Brigid’s School in Denbigh with Blessed Edward Jones in Rhyl on two sites.
The plan would have seen the schools continue to run on two different sites but as one entity.
It was envisioned that within a number of years a new faith school would be built and both schools would be completley merged.
Following a campaign by parents a consultation found that there was a large amount of oppostion to any merger plans.
The cabinet decided instead to look at opening one new faith school to serve North Denbighshire.
A new consultation will begin on developing a joint faith school in partnership with the Anglican and Catholic churches.
The new school would be built between 2016 and 2018.
The cabinet agreed to move forward in partnership with the churches.
However there was a desire from campaigners and parents that their views be fully considered throughout the process.
Lisa Carrier, parent and member of St Brigid's Action Group said: "The parents and pupils of both St Brigid's and Blessed Edward Jones schools overwhelmingly rejected this merger and we are pleased that Denbighshire County Council has listened to our voices.
“We now ask the council to look at the consultation responses in detail and truly consider the evidence, plans and practical examples submitted, which offer viable alternatives to an expensive merger that few appear to want.
“We would also ask that when planning the future of our children's education, the council includes representatives of St Brigid's School to ensure that the process is
truly transparent and fair to all stakeholders."
Tony Hannigan chairman of governors for St Brigid's School said: "St Brigid's School and governors would like to thank the members for listening and responding to the concerns we and others raised.
“The outcome of the process has raised our hopes that we will be able to continue to work with DCC to come to a solution that will be best for all pupils in Denbighshire.”
In a letter to Darren Millar AM, education minister Huw Lewis said that there could be funds provided to improve both schools on their current sites.
Denbighshire County Council chief executive Mohammed Mehmet appeared to rule this option out.
He said: “What is striking is that there has been no argument made in favour of the status quo, a two site option would be unjustified because it would cost a lot more to the taxpayer.
“What we have is two of the poorest schools in the county, the capital expenditure to bring them up to date would be prohibitive.
“They would remain small schools and I couldn’t justify that on the basis of demographics and finances.”