Bishop speaks on Ruthin schools under threat


Thomas Morton

THE Bishop of St Asaph has entered a row over the future of Ruthin Schools.

The Diocese of St Asaph is opposing recommendations by Denbighshire County Council that would close one faith school, federate another with a non-church school and possibly place a third under threat.

The changes could “seriously undermine the existence and viability” of all three church schools serving Ruthin, a church board has said.

There are three voluntary-controlled church schools around Ruthin, Ysgol Borthyn in the town centre, Ysgol Llanbedr DC and Ysgol Llanfair DC.

Denbighshire County Council is proposing to close Llanbedr and federate Llanfair with Ysgol Pentrecelyn, a community primary school.

A “feasibility study” to build a brand new school at Glasdir, less than a quarter of a mile from Ysgol Borthyn, is also being carried out.

The St Asaph Board of Education, chaired by Bishop of St Asaph, the Right Rev Dr Gregory Cameron, met last week to discuss the proposals.

The board stated the changes would “significantly impact on church school provision in the Ruthin area” and “remove adequate choice with regard to faith based provision”.

“If any federation of rural schools is a preferred option, the Diocese of St Asaph feels that federation between Ysgol Llanbedr DC and Ysgol Llanfair DC would be a more appropriate option,” it continued.

“For these reasons the Diocese of St Asaph strongly oppose the recommendations of Denbighshire County Council relating to Voluntary Controlled Schools in the Ruthin Area Primary Review report to cabinet of the June 25.”

Parents and governors of Ysgol Llanbedr have already mounted a campaign to keep the 150-year-old school open.

The low pupil numbers are the result of management issues that have now been resolved, school bosses say.

Last week Clwyd West AM Darren Millar raised the school’s plight in the Senedd and called upon the First Minister for assurances the views of parents, pupils and teachers would be considered.

He also said: “I totally support the Church in Wales on this issue and I'm pleased that Bishop Gregory has spoken out on this.

“All three schools under review have a distinctive and valued ethos as Church schools, to lose them would be devastating.

“As the Bishop highlights, each school serves a distinct area and the proposals from Denbighshire County Council remove from parents adequate choice with regard to faith based provision. We can not allow this to happen and I will be urging decision-makers to fully consider all the points raised."

He is holding a public meeting on the future of Ysgol Llanbedr at 6pm in the Village Hall in Llanbedr on Friday, July 12.

A spokesman for Denbighshire County Council said: “We welcome people’s comments and would ask them to submit them during the formal consultation in September so that they and be included for consideration.”

A consultation on the Ruthin primary schools proposals will take place from September 9 to October 18.

See full story in the Free Press

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