A group of parents in Neath Port Talbot have called for unity over Council plans to close schools in the borough. “No community school is safe” a spokesman for SaveOurSchools.Wales said. “There is a clear path that the council are taking. Closing smaller, older schools and creating larger schools outside of traditional communities. It saves money and then they sell off old sites for housing developments.”
The group think the council will inevitably force 3 Primary School closures in the Dulais Valley and are asking residents to act now. ““As individual communities, it is hard to fight. The council can pick off each school one by one, but as a united group of communities we will be much stronger. If parents in Seven Sisters, Crynant, Onllwyn and Banwen wait to fight the council on their own then they will be ignored. The same as in Alltwen, Godre’r’graig and Ynysmeudwy. We need people to look ahead, look at what the council are doing now, realise it is them who will be next and then for us all to oppose it together. As a borough, we can’t be ignored.”
HOW WOULD A DULAIS VALLEY SUPER SCHOOL LOOK?
DULAIS VALLEY SUPER-SCHOOL 359 Pupils:
All three Primary Schools in the Dulais Valley have less pupils than the smallest of the school closures in Pontardawe. Maesmarchog Primary School in Banwen, Blaendulais Primary School in Seven Sisters and Creunant Primary School in Crynant have a combined 359 Junior pupils.
If the council continue this path, all three schools could be amalgamated into one school to serve the valley. A site in Seven Sisters would be more accessible to parents in Banwen and Crynant than the proposed site is in Pontardawe to many of the pupils that attend current schools.
Busses could be provided for residents in Banwen and Crynant although in Pontardawe, parents have reservations about putting a 3 year old on a school bus.
Such reservations and the impact to these communities have led the public in Pontardawe to object to the school. In a comprehensive survey among residents just 12% of people in Pontardawe backed the new school. The Pontardawe Town Council have also rejected the proposed school, voting against it in a meeting earlier this month. However, there are still fears it will be forced through.
“We can object, we can protest, we can show that it is a bad idea but ultimately it is down to the council and we are just one small part of the borough. Fast-forward two or three years and the Dulais Valley, Neath Valley and Afan Valley will be facing a similar scenario. The council are not stupid, they won’t bite off more than they can chew. They will pick us off one by one and succeed.”
“The future is clear unless we act now. If you live near a traditional community school then it is under threat. If you like the idea of new, large, super schools then do not worry about it. But if you think that having schools in the heart of your community is important then speak now because it is no use in waiting until it is your school on the line.”
What to do?
“We need to send a message that local schools are important and that having four or six hundred kids in a primary school is a step backwards and not forwards. Kids like being in small schools where they feel a part of the community, where they know the teachers and other kids. In larger schools they simply become a faceless number. All three schools in Pontardawe are deemed ‘good’ schools by ESTYN as with other traditional schools across the borough.
“Please like our page on facebook and keep up to date with things. If you can email your local councillor explaining your view, then this would be great too. Should we stop the process in Pontardawe then it will force a re-think for other areas. If the time comes when your school is under threat then we hope that we will have an army of people across Neath Port Talbot with your back. Together we can win, individually the council will do as they please”