Councillors Vote To Keep Town Centre Super Schools Separate
Councillors have voted unanimously to continue to ‘challenge and support’ Wrexham schools and scrap plans of merging two town centre super schools.
In a report put before the Executive Board yesterday, Councillors voted to support and challenge Ysgol Clywedog and Ysgol Rhosnesni High School to improve as two community focused 11-16 comprehensive schools rather than create a so called super school.
Cllr Pritchard said: “We should be ambitious and strive forward. If you do not improve the schools, the parents will not send them there, parents want the best for their children. The issue isn’t money or transport, it’s education results.”
Last year both Ysgol Rhosnesni and Ysgol Clywedog were placed under special measures by Estyn, after their performance and prospects for improvement were deemed as ‘unsatisfactory’.
In December 2013 proposals to merge Ysgol Rhosnesni and Ysgol Clywedog together to create a ‘Through’ school that would cater for children aged between three – 16 was put before the Executive Board. Last week Wrexham.com reported on the decision to scrap plans to merge the two super schools had been scrapped.
A consultation with the public, governors, school staff and parents concluded that the focus should be on supporting both schools and helping them improve.
The Council also received around 50 letters and emails from local individuals and groups regarding the proposed options for the two schools. Within the report it notes that: “The key message arising is consistent with the other consultation responses received – strong support for supporting and challenging the schools to improve in their current format.”
Addressing the Board yesterday, Head of Children’s Services and Education, Councillor Michael Williams said: “The judgement from Estyn was fair, they identified where there was weaknesses and made suggestions for improvement.
“Ysgol Clywedog has already had three visits and Ysgol Rhosnesni has just had their second. Improvements are already taking place. The decision was taken by the Director of Education to look at the ways to support schools and look at alternatives in the long term to make sure the schools didn’t fall into these bands again.”
One concern that was raised surrounded the falling number of applicants to the two schools and the issues this may cause in future years. These comments focused particularly on point 4.2 of the Council report, which states: “Applications for places at both schools are falling, with a number of children and families for whom these schools would be the
closest option choosing to travel to schools that are further afield.”
Councillor Carole O’Toole said: “The consultation responses were surprisingly unanimous, we share confidence that situation is improving. However point 4.2 – talks about the falling applications at the two schools and refers to number of children and families who are choosing not to send their kids to these schools.
“Going forward this needs to be addressed and reversed. Pre-transition years as well – we have not got enough proposals in there in the years leading up to the decision making.”
Cllr Williams said: “When a school goes into special measures, parents get concerned and there is a drift, despite the fact the Estyn reports are quite balanced. What tends to happen is the weaknesses are accentuated and the strengths are ignored. It is difficult to reverse that.
“These are not only schools that have problems in Wrexham and it depresses me to have to say that. What I would like to see is that we set a target to be the best authority in North Wales as far as education services are concerned.”
Councillor Malcolm King, who is also a Governor for Ysgol Rhosnesni also stated that the likely intake for the school this coming year is likely to be higher.
An amendment was to the report was proposed by Cllr O’Toole, which focuses on analysis of the destination of figures of children leaving the feeder schools to Ysgol Rhosnesni and Ysgol Clywedog. Along with this it was proposed specific measures to be taken to improve the pre-transition from feeder school and improve both school’s reputations.
The amendment and initial report were both passed unanimously by Councillors.
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