Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Centenary of a Village School

This young lad's name is Jamie Owen, and he's a pupil at Aberhafesp Primary School in Montgomeryshire. Earlier today, we were cutting the School's 'Centenary Cake'. Aberhafesp School has been in existence for a long, long time, but its been on it's current site for 100 years. Such schools are so much more than places of education. They are the heart of communities. The head teacher of the school is Mr Eifion Thomas. He's the captain of a very seaworthy ship. A regular visitor to the School is TV personality, Sian Lloyd, who lives 'up the hill'. Today's celebratory lunch was just one part of a programme of events, organised by the community, centred on the School. On Friday, there's a concert, with a 'community choir' especially put together for the occasion. A book about the history of the School is being 'launched' at the concert. Powys Catering prepared the food. I felt privileged to share in the School's celebrations. Reason I've blogged on this event (apart from it being part of the life of this blog's author) is that the School has 29 pupils. Earlier this week, the Executive Board of Powys County Council decided to approach every primary school in Powys with less than 35 pupils to discuss voluntary closure. I know the Council's facing an almost impossible financial position, but as joining in today's celebrations, I find the idea of closing this school as impossible to contemplate on such a significant day in its history. It must not be allowed to happen.


Anonymous said...

Glyn, this does look like a difficult decision and I would like to ask a couple of questions.
Did the conservative members on the executive board vote for proceeding with conulting of the schools with under 35 pupils for voulntary closure?
What will the conservatives stance be on any proposals for the closure of any schools in Powys? Will they oppose any closure?
I look forward to your views.

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - The Executive Board vote was unanimous - so yes they did. I do not know what the stance of Conservative Councillors will be if and when a specific proposal for closure comes along. I've not discussed it with them. This blog reflects my opinion only. But then, I'm also President of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, and reteention of rural services have been my first priority, wearing that 'hat'.

Jobs in Wales said...


I think that this is an insightful post and I will definitley be follwong this blog in future. I think more MPs should follow your lead here Glyn

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the council has 26 million to save over the next three years. OK, so they might make things a bit leaner by getting rid of some layers of expensive management, but 26million? there has to be radical change and small schools will surely be a necessary, if unfortunate, casualty in all this.

I don't think our councillors are up to much good most of the time, but personally i think its cowardly to criticise them for making the hard decisions that somebody has to make.

We all have to wake up and smell the coffee!!

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - How can you know about what the Council has to 'save'? Last figure I heard was £33 million over 5 years. All we know is that our councillors are going to have to reassess their priorities in a big way. Personally, I don't think just closing a school because it falls below some arbitrary number is the best way to go about it - although I do accept that every school should be looked at. They will have no option but to look at joint heads of schools (including secondary), privatising services, big reduction in number of Councillors, increasing permitted development and a whole lot more. And who's criticising councillors. Taking a different view is not the same thing as criticism.

Anonymous said...

Glyn, surely the issue here is that purely economic considerations will almost always drive decision makers to remove financial support for small, local communities. There does not appear to be an effective mechanism by which the local voice and needs of small communities can be amplified above the noise of the 'townies'. Consultation processes can be such a sham.

Anonymous said...

I live in a rural community. The school village here closed years before mine ever started school, so my children get transported to the nearest town school.

Personally I'm glad there is no village school as i know i would have been pressurised into sending them there "for the sake of the community" - keeping the school open (which I know happens in the neighbouring village).

Everybody talks about communities, but what about the children? village schools have 2 teachers for the whole school, the kids are completely scared of high school because they have been so sheltered and it looks to me like the educational opportunities are fewer because the numbers are less.

Friends who went to village schools say they will never send them to the same village school because they felt totally unprepared for 'big school'.