Nine Acre Field

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    The presentations at yesterday’s meeting showed we do have Councillors who read the brief and understand how to put their point across. Officers are there to guide and advise but the power is always in the hands of Councillors.


    Comment 8or

    The master strategist Cllr Phil Wynne’s cunning measures to support his desperate attempt for the quick fix for St Mary’s school has failed. One thing that this planning process has done though, is to shine a light, and I quote from the planning meeting, ‘on the elephant in the room’: the Groves site.

    Something does need to be done about this mess, and it would appear as if it is too complicated for the current Council leadership to sort out (unless they’re beavering away developing a cunning super-solution behind closed doors). One option that is not available, is to continue doing nothing. Unless the plan is to wait until it eventually falls down, in which case, it’s working. It is a blot on the newly emerging city status landscape. It can’t be pulled down, and it can’t be left to slowly crumble away. There’s no getting away from the fact that considerable funds will need to be spent to sort it out, Mark Drakeford in Cardiff saw to that when he re-listed it.

    It looks like the 2005 “super school” plan needs to be revisited. It is plain to see that our large super schools are not coping – they’ve been in and out of Special Measures for years now. The nearest super school to the Groves, Ysgol Rhosnesni, has just been placed back in Special Measures, again. The whole super school concept was all about saving money, at the expense of our children’s education. I don’t know how today’s high school performance compares to pre-2005 as I don’t have the data, but they’re clearly under performing now. This is borne out by the comments in the new Estyn inspection report on Ysgol Rhosnesni, just released. The report states that around half of the pupils are making only limited progress, with many pupils using a narrow vocabulary. The report goes on to detail damning comments on teaching and senior leadership. The schools are just not coping, and seem in denial, by not providing governors with accurate information. Wrexham’s pupils deserve better – we have our own college and university, both of a high standard and which continue to improve, it’s just that our own pupils are being let down before they can get there. I don’t doubt that there are excellent teachers working hard in our schools. They are also being let down by ‘senior leadership’.

    Perhaps what is needed is an additional high school to help alleviate the pressures under which the large, super schools are demonstrably suffering. A school with sufficient green space to facilitate a variety of field sport options. A location of sufficient size that could also accommodate a new St Mary’s school built within its confines, to share some on-site facilities. Somewhere reasonably central to help reduce school transport costs under the current Wales school transport distance qualification criteria. Somewhere with sufficient on-site bus parking and manoeuvrability needs, with access away from a busy route. Somewhere with sufficient space to accommodate staff and visitor parking. Somewhere that would avoid a costly land purchase.

    A solution to this conundrum is, of course, the Groves site. With its very large green space, it could be used for both a new, much needed St Mary’s school build, and an additional separate, multi-faith high school, in the form of an upgraded existing Groves structure – to help other schools cope. I know the existing dated structure does not meet modern build standards, but surely parts of it could form the basis from which to develop – it could be converted into a fine looking educational show-piece. This has very recently worked very well at Yale College. Perhaps Mr Drakeford could provide some additional funding to assist with the development. After all, he’s had a hand in creating the problem. It just requires the political will.



    The problems in the ‘super schools’ is not to do with the number of pupils as Clywedog and Rhosnesni are operating now with only about 60% of the original planned numbers so overcrowding can’t be used as the reason for Special Measures.



    JaneJ is quite right to point out the difficult fact about numbers. Numbers alone would suggest that Wrexham actually has excess secondary pupil capacity not shortfall.

    Numbers alone, however, can be deceptive. A more granular exploration can lead people into difficult conclusions. Uncomfortable conclusions.

    The numbers seem to suggest that lots of children from Wrexham have either evaporated or that they are now being educated outside of the town. Numbers would also suggest that similar realities are present in many Welsh towns. Numbers also don’t suggest that the current Welsh way of doing things at Secondary level is working. After all, the English Labour Party abandoned the Welsh Labour Party approach. Why? Numbers

    Perhaps politicians from Wrexham should sit down in a room and actually talk about this issue rather than slinging mud at each other. Perhaps

    Perhaps if they did, the Secondary schools would improve, the Groves would be required and in almost Star Trek manner lots of children would suddenly rematerialize. Perhaps

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