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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
'Save rural schools' demo at eisteddfod
Moylegrove and Dinas protesters
Protests against closures have failed to date
Campaigners in west Wales seeking to gain support to halt the closure of rural schools have taken their fight to the National Eisteddfod.

Pupils and pupils from schools in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, have been upset by decisions to closure village schools to save costs.

Plaid Cymru has argued that schools should only be closed on educational grounds, not on issues of funding.

Ysgol Dinas
Dinas will close in December
Welsh language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg has also joined the row and is fronting the eisteddfod protest.

It says the number of rural schools closing has more than doubled from two per year to five in Carmarthenshire alone since Christmas.

Last month, the assembly confirmed the closure of Trewyddel (Molyegrove) and Dinas schools in Pembrokeshire - both of which have fewer than 30 pupils.

Pembrokeshire Council said they were too expensive to run, but parents said closing small village schools would have a devastating effect on the community.

Ysgol Gynradd Hermon, in Pembrokeshire, which has 48 pupils is set to be the next in line to be closed by the education authority, but parents are fighting the proposal.


Every parent said they would not support closures nor a larger school at Crymych

Chris Tomos, parent YG Hermon

Hermon and nearby Blaen-ffos could be closed and pupils moved to a larger, district school at Crymych.

Several other schools facing closure have been turned down on appeal to the Welsh Assembly, but those campaigners are now considering seeking judicial reviews.

At the eisteddfod protest in St David's, parent Chris Tomos said it was a "travesty" that Hermon school could be closed on cost grounds.

He said many parents were convinced rural schools were the cornerstones of community life.

Baby in school protest
Children in rural areas will have to travel to other schools
Small schools, he argued, offered better one-to-one contact between teacher and pupil and had the effect of attracting new families into the area.

"At a consultation meeting in March, every parent said they would not support closures nor a larger school at Crymych.

"The council We have demonstrated the building at Hermon is viable, the level of education standard is good and the cost per pupil is up with government statistics."

'Meltdown'

He added: "We are looking at the early key stages of education at Hermon, the strong Welsh language line of education comes through strongly."

Ffred Ffransis, education spokesman for Cymdeithas, said the Welsh language could be facing "meltdown" if school closures continued to escalate.

"It is much easier for bureaucrats to move children around to bigger schools. But where does the argument end? Do we then close down villages?"

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Protestor and parent, Julia Guest
"The children that go to small schools learn citizenship at a very early age, they learn to speak Welsh very well."
Chris Tomos, parent
"There was a consultation meeting, but parents made it clear they did not want the school closed"

Where I Live, South West Wales
See also:

16 Jul 02 | Wales
27 Sep 01 | Wales
09 May 00 | Education
15 Jul 99 | Special Report
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