Councils need more Government support to protect rural schools: Plaid Leadership Contender

Ynys Môn AM and candidate for the Leadership of Plaid Cymru, Rhun ap Iorwerth, has unveiled proposals to help keep schools at the heart of our communities.

Mr ap Iorwerth says he has sympathy with councils that are working to ever tighter spending limits, whilst coming under pressure from Welsh Government from a number of conflicting directions.

He said: “Welsh Government wants to give the impression that it is protecting rural schools by devising a new ‘code’ that councils will have to follow before closing schools. I welcome any genuine attempts to help smaller schools, but at the same time as this code is being developed, Government policy is urging moves towards larger schools, and crucially a code not backed by additional resource is a smokescreen.”

He added: “As First Minister I would want to support Councils in trying to find new and innovative ways of keeping schools open within their communities, and I particularly favour the creation of multi-site ‘Area Schools’, with one Head and one Governing body sharing costs and setting common goals and standards across the different sites, but crucially allowing more communities to keep their primary schools.

“This ‘new deal’ for rural school clusters won’t stop all school closures, but it will empower Councils to look for innovative answers, will help deliver standards in a small-school setting, and properly resourced will mean that rurality is embraced and not seen as a burden.”

Mr ap Iorwerth said he’s not opposed entirely to the principle of merging schools where there are no other options, and that there are instances where some schools become unsustainable educationally and financially due to low pupil numbers. However, he wants councils helped to ensure closures become a last resort.