Campaigners condemn final decision to close Welsh language school in holiday homes hotspot
Language activists have condemned the decision to close a Welsh language school in a holiday home hotspot.
Despite receiving 211 objections and two petitions opposing the proposal to close Ysgol Abersoch at the end of this year, the Gwynedd council cabinet today unanimously voted to close the school on the 31st. December.
The Ministry of Education had expressed concerns about the school’s low number, with 76% of the school’s capacity empty.
But the school was criticized by groups such as Cymdeithas yr Iaith, spokesman Ffred Ffransis calling the authority’s approach ‘flashing’ and that Abersoch was already suffering from a holiday home problem.
In response to the decision, Ffred Ffransis said the council had undermined its own housing and language policies and “abandoned” the community.
âThroughout the process, the Council ignored the voices of the community and refused to consider alternatives that would have allowed the school to remain open as part of a federation,â he said.
âThe Council’s own assessments recognized that the school closure would have a negative impact on the Welsh language and the community, but they ignored them.
âThey betrayed this vulnerable community and undermined their hopes of using the school as a base for the revival of the Welsh language locally.
“We are further concerned that the Council intends to sell the school building, which means that neither Cylch Meithrin nor Cylch Ti a Fi could continue there and are likely to be as well. moved out of the village.
âThe future of our communities is the future of its schools, and our county councils need to take this into account if they are serious about the future of the Welsh language. “
Council had received 211 objections to the plans in consultation, with general comments indicating that the school “supports village life” and that closing its doors would “negatively impact the village and the Welsh language”.
Following the school’s closure, the ten students will be offered a place for Ysgol Sarn Bach in the neighboring village from January, and the authority is now preparing to improve its means of transportation and learning.
Education Cabinet member Cemlyn Williams said they understood it had been a “difficult time” for those involved in the school.
Garem Jackson, head of the education department, added that they had “assessed the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats” of all options, before proposing to close the school.
However, Abersoch town councilor Dewi Wyn Roberts said the school’s closure would have a “serious impact” on the local community and the Welsh language.
âDeciding on the future of a school is not easy and the Council understands that it has been a difficult time for everyone involved with Ysgol Abersoch,â said a spokesperson for the Gwynedd Council.
âWith a capacity of 34 places, in September 2020, eight children were attending school full time and two kindergarten students. Projections do not indicate a significant increase in the number of students over the next few years.
âThe Council held extensive discussions on the vulnerability of the school due to the low number of students. There followed a period of statutory consultation and more recently a period of statutory opposition.
âWe are grateful to everyone who contributed to the discussions on the future of Ysgol Abersoch, including the students, staff and governors as well as those who contributed to the statutory consultation and objection periods.
âIt is a matter of sadness when the future of a school has to be considered. However, the Council has a duty to ensure that it provides the best possible education and experiences for our children.
âAfter a detailed review of all objections received within the legal objection period, it was decided that Ysgol Abersoch should close at the end of 2021.
âAs part of the decision, students will be offered an offer to attend nearby Ysgol Sarn Bach from January 2022.
âThere has been a clear desire in the village of Abersoch to see the continuation of the school, and every effort will be made to ensure that there is a clear link between the community of Abersoch and Ysgol Sarn Bach where many Abersoch pupils are already attending grade 4 and above.