News guildhall-council

The future of Ysgol Clywedog and Ysgol Rhosnesni will go out to public consultation following a vote at the Council Executive Board earlier this afternoon.

The Executive Board voted in the majority to send the options of Wrexham’s two ‘super schools’ to the public for a consultation.

Both Ysgol Rhosnesni and Ysgol Clywedog were placed under ‘special measures’ by Estyn earlier this year, after their performance and prospects for improvement were deemed as ‘unsatisfactory’.

Councillor Michael Williams said: “The purpose is to consult with local people over proposals to review and perhaps make significant changes to education in Wrexham. I don’t want to dwell on the problems of the two schools at the moment.

“The schools made some progress but not at the pace that would satisfy Estyn.  There are two schools that are need challenge and support to get out of the position that they are in at the moment.”

As we reported last week, there are three options that will now be put to the public. The first focuses on maintaining the schools as two separate schools, but would ‘support and challenge’ to help improve their current status.

A second option would be to create ‘Through schools’ for those aged between three and 16 years old. This would mean that primary school provision would be provided at either, or both of the two schools, resulting in infant, junior and secondary students being taught on the same campus. Within this the students would be educated in separated parts of the campus, but teaching and resources within the school would be shared.

The final option would be to create a single ‘Through school’ that would cater for those aged between three and 16 years old and would be based across the two campuses (the Ysgol Clywedog and Ysgol Rhosnesi sites).

Speaking about the three options, Cllr Williams said: “The first option is the no change option. This would cause the least disruption to learners in the short-term.

“The first option would cause the least disruption to the learners, at least in the short-term. The second option would be to create primary provision. There advantages for three to 16 year olds on the same campus. I spent a lot of time since being Lead Member visiting these places.”

Councillor Mark Pritchard seconded the recommendation from Cllr Williams, adding:  “It’s so important that we don’t dwell on the failings of the schools in the report.

“It’s so important, we have a duty to make sure the children in Wrexham have a first class education. I think this is the right journey to go on. We can’t leave it as a status quo.

“We are guardians and are being told by independent people that the schools are failing.”

Concerns were raised on the report not going to a Scrutiny Committee prior to the meeting today. The subject of what one councillor described as ‘Scrutiny v Executive Board’ was an ongoing discussion throughout the meeting. Further information can be found on our report of the debate here.

Councillor Carole O’Toole said: “I had no prior knowledge of the report coming. this is a hugely significant report with far-reaching consequences. It is deserving of a different type of treatment than what was happening; I am going to call for it to be deferred.

“We need to call for caution rather than leaping too far ahead. I am concerned about the speed that these proposals are being made, concerned about the timing over the christmas period and concerned local members have not been approached at all.

“All councillors need an opportunity to discuss these proposals in more detail. We need a more evidential base to back up the options presented here today.

“This report deserves far greater scrutiny than we are giving this afternoon.”

However Council Leader Neil Rogers said: “If we do defer, the issue cannot be left as it needs tackling. We have a duty to the young people who attend these schools. We need to do something and do something about it quickly, not defer it.”

Cllr Williams added: ‘We have been working with the schools for the last two years. It is alright being cautious, but how long can you be cautious for? Children out there are not getting the education they deserve, we have been discussing this for 12 months.”

Cllr O’Toole’s concerns were echoed by Councillor Phil Wynn who said:  “We are here discussing two schools in the county, but collectively we are the 6th worst in North Wales. Whilst it’s easy for us and the press to focus on two schools, there is a bigger problem in this county that the report does not address.

“This school Clywedog, is on a journey of improvement, but it is early days. This is a such a radical departure, and echo the points Cllr O’Toole has made and would like to see a debate with all 52 elected members.”

Cllr Williams reminded the meeting that no decisions regarding the schools had been made, and the report focuses on putting the options out for the public to review.

“After consultation we can start fleshing out what we mean.” said Cllr Williams, who later added: “There are a lot of changes in education. We need to be providing good, solid education with the best and we have gone wrong somewhere.

“We have got to start learning and start learning fast. Things have gone awry and they need to be tackled.”

The majority of the Board voted in favour of putting the consultation out to public review,  with one member voting against the recommendation and a further two abstentions.

The consultation period will begin in 2014.

There is an ongoing discussion on the subject of the two super schools on our forums. You can take part in the debate by clicking here