THE last day of summer term was more poignant than ever for 19 pupils who attended Ysgol Rhydgaled, Groes, this year.
After 136 years, the primary school door closed and the bell was rung for the final time. Conwy cabinet members made the decision to close the school at its recent meeting in June, along with the closure of another rural school, Ysgol Llangwm near Cerrigydrudion.
Ruth Williams, Ysgol Rhydgaled Chair of Governors said: “As school governors and the wider community we were obviously devastated and totally opposed to the closure of our school. However, we realised, that similarly to other rural areas in Wales, we were fighting against a tide of rural de-population due to economic downturn, challenges in retaining and attracting young families to live in rural communities, and government policies in Cardiff and London which offer no real investment to rural areas in Wales.
“We therefore made the decision early in the process, that our energy was best used to ensure a fantastic last few months for our pupils, plus investing in community led projects.
The youngsters at the school were visited by a number of famous people in recent weeks.
Popular singer and actor Bryn Fôn took time out of his busy theatre schedule to visit the pupils, together with music workshops by Gai Toms and musician Ynyr Llwyd.
Parents and the community were dismayed at the county’s decision, so late in the day, to close the school. Youngsters will now disperse to different schools in the area, with six pupils moving up to secondary school at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, St Asaph.
“Our children have been fortunate being educated to a high standard at such a great close-knit school,” explains Ruth.
Rhydgaled received the highest grade, 1 for ‘experiences’ in their last Estyn inspectorate report.
The school is grateful to the wider community for its support during recent months, and are now working together to set up a community project to archive the history of Rhydgaled’s primary Welsh speaking education during the last 136 years.
“We are grateful to Llansannan Community Council for match-funding Cyfeillion funds to set up a project where we can collate historical documents, articles, reports and photos of education at Rhydgaled during the last century and more. We have already set up a Facebook page, Ysgol Rhydgaled 1878 – 2014, which is attracting a keen interest.
“Because the closure process was placed upon us by Conwy County so quickly, we will be arranging an Open Day at the school in the autumn so ex pupils can join us in celebrating the last 136 years, and feed into the project,” Ruth Williams concluded.