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Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
Small school secures future
school pupils generic
Rural schools often have few pupils
A small Welsh medium school in a remote area of mid Wales appears to have been saved from closure.

Parents from Penybontfawr, near Llanfyllin, had campaigned for weeks to keep Ysgol Pennant open.

Powys County Council's education committee took the decision on Monday and also backed plans to build a new Welsh and English speaking school at nearby Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant.

But the final say rests with the local authority's full council next month.

Around 30 parents and campaigners from Penybontfawr and Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant had travelled to lobby the councillors as they arrived for the meeting at Llandrindod Wells.

We're delighted by the education committee's decision
Graham Roberts, chairman of the governors of Ysgol Pennant

After the meeting, Graham Roberts, chairman of the governors of Ysgol Pennant and chairman of the action committee, said: "It's the first step to saving the school.

"We're delighted by the education committee's decision.

"The community has really pulled together on this and we've written hundreds of letters to the council and councillors as well as political parties."

Inside the meeting, committee members were told that petitions had been presented to the council from both communities objecting to an area school.

Meanwhile, councillors heard about concerns from the Welsh Language Board which said the closure of Ysgol Pennant would be detrimental to the Welsh language in the area.

Apart from one abstention, every committee member voted in favour of keeping the Welsh medium school open.

Parents have fought for months to keep Ysgol Pennant open.

They feared a "watering-down" of the Welsh language ethos in the area.

Parents formed an action committee when they were told about the proposals at the end of the summer term.

Schoolchildren
Ysgol Pennant is in the hamlet of Penybontfawr in north Powys

Before Monday's meeting Mr Roberts had said the school's closure would have diluted the Welsh language.

'True bilingualism

"The Iaith Pawb bilingual plan states it wants young people to be fluent in both Welsh and English for a modern Wales," he said.

"This is right and proper but, if they take away the means to do it effectively, they are not going to achieve that aim.

"Our school and community has fluency in both Welsh and English and a strong Welsh culture which has integrated extremely well over the past 20 years.

"Children do much better in their lives by having dual language. Children taught through the medium of Welsh can slip between the two languages easily.

"There are no boundaries drawn and children being taught true bilingualism leave school fluent in both Welsh and English and can choose how they use it professionally later on."


SEE ALSO:
Parents lose school closure fight
30 Jul 04  |  South West Wales
Nine schools under threat
29 Oct 03  |  Mid
Rural schools win reprieve
03 Nov 03  |  Mid
School judicial review starts
26 Jul 04  |  South West Wales


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