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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 20:12 GMT
Schools shake-up protests staged
Gwynedd school protesters
Parents turned out when Gwynedd council last discussed its plan
Opponents of controversial plans to reorganise and close schools in Gwynedd have staged protests.

Parents lobbied councillors at a council board meeting discussing a shake-up of primary schools.

Despite the opposition, the council decided to press ahead with proposals to close 29 schools and open eight.

But it is thought a longer consultation process could delay some of the changes. Gwynedd's full council will discuss the reorganisation next month.

Council leader Richard Parry Hughes said they were confident the plans would "deliver a new county-wide primary school model capable of meeting the needs of Gwynedd's primary children and individual communities in the 21st Century".

He said: "Unlike some counties, we are not looking to close small schools with less than a certain number of pupils.

The Bronyfoel unit is recognised as one of the jewels in the crown of special needs provision in Gwynedd
Maxine Bee, action group

"Indeed, the proposals we are considering would result in a number of small rural schools remaining open."

About 300 parents from Gwynedd turned out when the school reorganisation plan was discussed by the scrutiny committee in October.

The 37-pupil Ysgol Bronyfoel at Y Fron near Caernarfon is one of the schools earmarked for closure.

The school site also has a special needs unit attended by children from primary schools in the area.

Supporters of the school claim the council has made no provision for these pupils if the school were to close, and no mention has been made of the unit in any of the discussions to date.

Full potential

"The Bronyfoel unit is recognised as one of the jewels in the crown of special needs provision in Gwynedd," said Maxine Bee, of the action group.

"Pupils attend daily sessions here from all over the Dyffryn Nantlle catchment area.

"It provides intensive, innovative and specialised support which is highly effective in making sure children reach their full potential," Mrs Bee added.

The lobby is the latest in a series since the school reorganisation plan was unveiled.

On Monday parents from closure-threatened Llanystumdwy school lobbied a meeting of Gwynedd council's Dwyfor area planning committee.

Save Carno School sign
They, like so many forgotten rural communities across Wales, feel undervalued, endangered and forgotten by the Cardiff bubble of decision-makers
Kirsty Williams AM, Liberal Democrat

Meanwhile, a petition with more than 2,000 signatures against plans to close six Powys primary schools was handed in at the Senedd in Cardiff.

Last month, councillors voted to shut Llangurig, Howey, near Llandrindod Wells, and Thomas Stephens School in Pontneddfechan.

A decision on Carno, near Newtown, Llanfihangel Yng Gwynfa and Ysgol Efyrnwy schools, near Llanfyllin, has been deferred.

Some campaigners intend to lodge an objection with Education Minister Jane Hutt, who will make the final decision.

Brecon and Radnorshire AM Kirsty Williams, the Liberal Democrats' education spokesperson, said: "This petition represents the strong voice of the rural communities of Powys who are faced with the continuous onslaught of threatened closure of their local services including schools, hospitals, post offices, libraries and public conveniences.

"They, like so many forgotten rural communities across Wales, feel undervalued, endangered and forgotten by the Cardiff bubble of decision-makers."



SEE ALSO
Vote to close three Powys schools
09 Oct 07 |  Mid Wales
Hundreds at school closures demo
25 Oct 07 |  North West Wales
29 schools 'to close' in shake-up
19 Oct 07 |  North West Wales
Parents discuss small school plan
30 Jun 06 |  North West Wales
Action plan over failing schools
05 Nov 07 |  North East Wales

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