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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Schools vow to fight closures
Primary school children with teacher
All five of the schools have less than 40 children

Head teachers and governors at five schools targeted for possible closure in a review of Powys primary schools have vowed to fight the move.

Primary schools at Llangurig, Llandinam, Howey, Libanus and Trecastle have been highlighted as the main targets for possible closure in the review.

All these schools have less that 40 pupils and are seen as not being cost effective for the local authority which has a 27m maintenance backlog for the county's schools.

The review comes after councillors voted against a move to close Libanus and Trecastle schools last year leading to an overall review.

I think it is an absolute disgrace that Llangurig primary school has been put under this cloud and I am disappointed that nobody has told us about it yet
Ernie Jones, Llangurig head teacher

Ernie Jones is head teacher at Llangurig primary school whose pupils would have to go travel six miles a day to go to Llanidloes if the school was shut down.

"I think it is an absolute disgrace that Llangurig primary school has been put under this cloud and I am disappointed that nobody has told us about it yet," said Mr Jones.

Broader education

"Our last school inspection in January revealed that 100% of teaching was acceptable and 91% was good or better which shows the standard of education children get at this school."

Chris Williams is the chairman of governors at Llandinam primary school, whose pupils would have to travel to Llanidloes or Caersws for their education.

"I know that the National Assembly believes that small schools are a bad idea and that they can't cover the whole national curriculum," said Mr Williams.

"This is demonstrably false because we can provide a broader education than that provided at a large school.

Leslie Davies
Leslie Davies: He will fight to keep Howey school open

"We are excellent at including all pupils in the school's activities and you don't lose children down the cracks which happens with larger schools.

"Wales is a rural society and these small schools have done a good job for the last 100 years so the National Assembly should support them in the same way as it does the Welsh language."

Leslie Davies, chairman of governors of Howey Church in Wales school, near Llandrindod Wells.

"Closing small schools in rural areas will mean that you will create situations where four-year-olds will have to catch buses to travel several miles at seven o'clock in the morning," said Mr Davies.

"It simply isn't practical and we will fight any attempt to close our school."

Angela Reed, head teacher at Libanus primary school, just outside Brecon, said 20 new homes were being built in the village.

"Although we only have 19 pupils at the moment we have an active pre-school group of 35 children which meets once a week and there are 10 pupils down to enter the school next year and another seven the year after," said Mrs Reed.

School numbers
Llangurig- 22 pupils
Llandinam- 35 pupils
Libanus- 19 pupils
Trecastle- 15 pupils
Howey - 30 pupils

"The uncertainty over this school's future over the last nine years means we haven't been able to build up pupil numbers because parents are unsure about our future," she added.

Like Libanus, Trecastle primary school avoided closure last year but the head teacher is also the head at Penrhos school.

Helayna Davies' son, Jordan, is a pupil at Trecastle and she has vowed to fight against any closure plans.

"My son was at a bigger school in Llandovery but because he is hyperactive I decided to place him at Trecastle," said Mrs Davies.

"He is very happy at Trecastle and I will fight to the bitter end to keep that school open."

A Powys Council spokesman said a full consultation with schools and local communities would now be conducted before any decision on the schools' future was made.

A National Assembly spokesman denied it had adopted a policy in favour ofb the closure of small schools.

She pointed out a missive sent to assembly members by education minister Jane Davidson last October.

At the time Ms Davidson said: "I would not be prepared to approve the closure of a popular and effective school, unless the alternative proposed offered at least equivalent quality and diversity of education, at a lower cost."

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