Monmouthshire Council Considers Including Three Villages in School Catchment Area
THREE villages in Monmouthshire could be included in the catchment area of a school in their county for the first time.
At present the local school for youngsters in the villages of Tredunnock, Llandegveth and Llanhennock is the Charles Williams Church in Wales Primary in Caerleon which is across the county boundary in the Newport City Council local authority area.
Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet has however agreed it should consult on making the villages part of the catchment area of Usk Church in Wales Primary School, from September 2025, so that children have a school in their county.
The move could push up school transport costs by an estimated £41,000 on current prices – which are likely to increase – but the cabinet has ruled out redrawing an the catchment area of another school in the county as it could have increased the cost of school buses by £33,000.
Catchment areas used in deciding the allocation of school places and children who live within a catchment area of a school have priority over those who don’t.
They also determine who is granted free home to school transport and Monmouthshire council’s current policy is that primary pupils are eligible if they live more than 1.5 miles from their nearest or catchment school.
The cabinet has agreed there should be a rolling programme of primary school catchment area reviews to ensure their suitability but potential changes to the catchment that includes Mitchel Troy and Cwmcarvan are effectively on hold due to the extra transport costs of £33,000 a year if they were alterted.
Cllr Groucutt told the cabinet: “Let me be blunt I would rather that money be provided for a teaching assistant to teach children with additional learning needs than provide it for a bus for children who are already attending a good school.
“I’m not opposed in future but it seems wrong to start a process knowing it is unlikely to be successful.”
Mitchel Troy and Cwmcarvan are currently part of the catchment area of Overmonnow Primary School, in Monmouth but around half the children go to school in Trellech which, the Abergavenny councillor said, results in the “slightly unusual situation of a majority of pupils not going to their catchment school.”
Trellech is the nearest school for some in the area and that impacts on who is eligible for free transport.
Conservative group leader Richard John, who represents Mitchel Troy and Trellech, said his group supported the planned change to the catchment areas in the south of the county.
But he said: “I do feel disappointed you are not going to consult with Mitchel Troy and Cwmcarvan it just does not reflect what is happening on the ground with a split through the community with half closer to Overmonnow and the other closer to Trellech. There’s an element of unfairness there particularly regards transport costs.”
The additional transport cost of moving the villages in the south of the county into the Usk catchment area is estimated at £41,580 and at present there are no children currently receiving transport from the affected area to the Charles Williams school. But a report for the cabinet warned the council may still have to provide transport to the schools currently designated as catchment if it is the nearest which will increase the costs over those quoted.
Cllr Groucutt said he didn’t wish to “exaggerate” links between schools and communities after Cllr John asked him how important he thought it is that catchment areas “reflect existing community bounds.”
Cllr Groucutt acknowledged school catchment areas do “to a certain extent” but said the council pays to bus children out of the Mitchell Troy area to attend faith schools and is currently encouraging parents to send their children to a new Welsh medium primary to be established in Monmouth.
He also said: “I think there is a higher than average proportion of parents sending children out from your local catchment in order for them to be educated at Haberdashers’ (independent school) in Monmouth.”
The majority of Monmouthshire’s primary catchment areas have existed since the current county council was established in 1996.
A consultation on the changes impacting the three villages in the south of Monmouthshire would run from January 8 to February 19 with a decision to be made by the cabinet in April.
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