Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

20m plan to build four schools

School children (library picture)
Providing everything goes to plan the schools could be built by 2011

Plans have been unveiled to close 10 primary schools in Powys and build four new replacements at a cost of 20m.

The ambitious proposal centres on a catchment area in the upper Swansea Valley called Maesydderwen, which is in and around Ystradgynlais.

It is part of a project by Powys council to invest 125m in modernising its network of primary schools by 2019.

Councillors backed controversial plans to close three primary schools in the county last year.

There was some opposition when it was announced the buildings in Llangurig, Howey, near Llandrindod Wells, and Thomas Stephens School in Pontneddfechan would close.

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

The six schools were earmarked for closure after a review found that there were more than 4,000 surplus places.

One Welsh medium primary school for the whole catchment area
Three English medium primary schools for an area currently served by nine schools
The project is expected to cost 20m

Powys council said the proposals for Maesydderwen catchment area were in the early stages, but providing everything went to plan the new schools could be built by 2011.

A spokesman for a project board set up to review education in Powys said: "The decision is in principle and will be the subject of detailed community focussed consultation with parents, staff and the wider community.

"We are planning to distribute surveys/questionnaires, hold surgery sessions at a central location such as the Miners Welfare Hall (in Ystradgynlais), public meetings at a central location and individual schools.

"Feedback provided from all these consultation activities will be recorded, analysed and reported to the area project board and distributed to schools to help inform the decision making of the area project board and the final proposals.

"We hope feedback will ensure that the final proposals will be sustainable and meet the needs of the pupils and the wider community in the Maesydderwen catchment area."

The schools earmarked for closure are Abercraf, Caehopkin, Coelbren, Penycae, Ysgol Cynlais, Penrhos, Ynyscedwyn, Glanrhyd, Gurnos and Cwmtwrch.

The project board is made up of teachers, governors, local councillors, education officers and other area representatives.

Councillor John Steadman sits on the board.

He said: "Some schools are overcrowded while in other areas some are virtually empty.

"A lot of the schools are in disrepair, but feelings about the future are mixed. I think people will accept this because it's been on the cards for a long time.

"As long as the schools are built in the right place and everybody is included in the process the decision will be accepted."

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