Posted: Wed 13th Dec 2023

Majority of Respondents Oppose Plans to Close Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Smallest School

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Dec 13th, 2023

Nearly 95% of people who responded to a consultation on plans to close Rhondda Cynon Taf’s smallest school said they are against the idea.
The plans to close Rhigos Primary School and move pupils to Hirwaun Primary School are set to come before cabinet again on Monday, December 18, for it to consider feedback from the consultation.
There has been a campaign against the closure from parents and members of the community who have held protests and say it would mean the loss of the heart of the village.
Of the 239 responses to the consultation, 226 (94.5%) said they were against it, with the Save Rhigos Primary School action committee carrying out three separate petitions which have been signed by a total of 1,823 people.
If approved by cabinet, the proposal would progress to the next stage of the consultation process, with a statutory notice issued which would trigger the
start of the objection period.
In September, cabinet agreed to consult on the proposals to close the school and transfer pupils by no later than next September because the council “has a statutory duty through its approach to the organisation and leadership arrangements of schools to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of provision to ensure that all schools are well placed to deliver high-quality education”.
Other reasons for considering the move include that Rhigos is RCT’s smallest school and the number of pupils joining it has been in steady decline, with numbers forecast to continue to fall in the next five years.
The council also says: “Allowing surplus places to remain high through inaction would directly and negatively affect the future financial viability of Rhigos Primary School and impact children’s education in the future.
“Rhigos Primary School’s budget, with a diminishing income would have less money for staff salaries, curriculum activities, equipment, running costs and maintenance of the school estate and would therefore struggle to maintain their current good education offer.”
The council says the aim is to “continue to effectively manage the education provision available in the Cynon Valley area of Rhondda Cynon Taf. The proposal would extend and expand upon the positive outcomes delivered through the WG’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, enabling more pupils to benefit from this significant investment which has included the provision of the new Hirwaun Primary School building”.
Some of the concerns raised in the consultation included the pupils being lost in a school the size of Hirwaun Primary School, the condition of the building in Rhigos in terms of what work has been done and how much money has been spent there, and concerns over the impact on the community.
They also raise concerns about educational outcomes, pupil numbers and capacity, why Rhigos isn’t designated a rural school, and transport and travel issues in terms of active travel, cost and carbon footprint.
Other concerns include the impact on pupils, the impact on staff and the consultation process itself.
They also raised questions around the support for pupils with additional learning needs, nursery provision, and access to after-school clubs and breakfast clubs.
The cabinet report said Estyn considered the proposal is likely to at least maintain the standard of education provision and outcomes for pupils in the area and the “local authority has set out a clear rationale for its proposal. It outlines strongly the many advantages of closing Rhigos Primary School, with all pupils transferring to Hirwaun Primary School”.
The council said there will be no capital funding implications should the proposal go ahead, and revenue savings from the closure of the school would be reinvested into supporting education in the county borough.
It said all pupils in the Rhigos catchment area would qualify for home to school transport to Hirwaun and that progressing with the proposals would have a “positive impact” upon the budgetary position of Hirwaun Primary School. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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