Crunch meeting to discuss the future of Bala schools

Reporter:

Stephanie Price

A CABINET will meet next week to consider whether to re-visit the decision to establish the new Y Bala learning campus in conjunction with the Church in Wales.

Gwynedd councillors will be considering  whether to re-visit the decision to establish a 3-19 Learning Campus in Y Bala in conjunction with the Church in Wales, following recent discussions between Gwynedd Council officers, the Diocese of St Asaph, Y Berwyn catchment-area governors and local members. 

A report was submitted to the Cabinet on December 13, 2016, seeking permission to consult with the governing bodies of Y Berwyn catchment area schools on the option to abandon the proposal.

The Cabinet decided in that meeting to defer consideration of the recommendation in the report in order to consider the latest correspondence received from the Church in Wales and the legal advice.

Following the Cabinet’s meeting in December, a meeting was held, attended by headteachers, chair of governors and local members, as well as a representative on behalf of the Diocese of St Asaph, on January 18 to provide an update on the situation.

Following this, the council has received comments from the Governing Bodies of Ysgol Y Berwyn and Ysgol Bro Tegid stating their opposition to the proposed status of the 3-19 Learning Campus.

Councillor Gareth Thomas, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member for Education said: “Gwynedd Council is entirely focused on ensuring the best education provision for the children and young people of the Berwyn catchment area and the construction work for this new 3-19 Learning Campus worth more than £10 million is progressing well.

“Unfortunately, following a long period of working in partnership with the Church in Wales, the latest developments have caused great concern locally and poses a significant risk to the success of the school.

“As a result, the matter will be presented to the cabinet to consider the situation and the best way forward. As part of the discussion, we will consider whether we should open formal discussions with the governors of Y Berwyn catchment area schools on the option of withdrawing the current proposal, and re-starting a statutory consultation process.”

If the cabinet approves the report recommendation, the council will discuss any possible financial implications for the scheme directly with the Welsh Government.

A spokesperson from the Diocese of St Asaph said: “We note with disappointment the proposal being presented to Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet meeting. 

“We acted in good faith in responding to the request of Cyngor Gwynedd to be partners in their school reorganisation plans, which include the closure of three Church in Wales primary schools, offering a widely-valued education to 279 pupils.

“The Head of Education and the Lead Member for Education at Cyngor Gwynedd have already accepted an invitation from the Bishop of St Asaph the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron to a meeting in St Asaph ahead of cabinet where we will seek a way forward. 

“We urge all those involved in this process to ensure the educational interests of the children and young people of Bala are the priority and that we all move forward to that end with transparency and respect.”

Councillor Dilwyn Roberts added: “The recommendation is that it goes to consultation to the governors of the free schools – and that this be turned into a community school, as this is the feeling locally. It is quite clear that they have listened to local opinion.”

Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet will meet on Tuesday, February 14, to discuss the matter. 

See full story in the Free Press

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