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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 November 2007, 15:23 GMT
Elis-Thomas backs school shake-up
Gwynedd school protesters
Angry parents are fighting the council's proposals
The Welsh Assembly's presiding officer Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas has defended school reorganisation and closure plans for his constituency.

Gwynedd Council is continuing with its proposals to close 29 schools and open eight new ones despite opposition.

Angry parents who believe the changes could signal the death-knell for communities have lobbied councillors and staged protests against the plans.

But Lord Elis-Thomas said the council's actions were "necessary".

Speaking on BBC Wales' Politics Show he said school reorganisation was a "national issue".

Lord Elis-Thomas, the assembly member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said parents' fears were not irrational, but there were "two-sides" to the argument, and that the determining factor had to be educational needs.

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas
This is part of a national agenda which we all have to respond to
Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas

He said: "Every pupil in Wales should be able to have a fair amount of money spent on his or her education. That's the priority.

"Schools are located where they are for historical reasons. Communities change, and that's what's happening now.

"I think we need buildings that are fit for purpose for the 21st Century, so that all these exciting aspects of school curriculum can be taught in sustainable buildings.

"This is part of a national agenda which we all have to respond to," he added.

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

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

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.

But Gwynedd council leader Richard Parry Hughes has said the authority was 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".

Schools shake-up protests staged
20 Nov 07 |  North West Wales
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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