Thousands back Eglwys Newydd school battle
Jul 22 2010 by Kathryn Williams, South Wales Echo
CAMPAIGNERS yesterday stepped up their campaign against a planned schools reorganisation – submitting nearly 5,000 letters of objection.Parents of pupils who attend Whitchurch English-medium school Eglwys Newydd are protesting at Cardiff council proposals to combine the school with another English- medium school in the area.The shake-up of north Cardiff schools would involve Welsh-medium primary Ysgol Melin Gruffydd taking over the buildings of Eglwys Newydd Primary School.The 4,800 letters were submitted at Cardiff County Hall yesterday by the Save Eglwys Newydd Action Group. Protests were also sent to the Welsh Assembly Government.
Justine Richey, mother of six-year-old Morgan, said she did not want her son to have to attend a school of more than 600 pupils, which the combined school would cater for. The new English-medium school would have an investment of £2.2m, compared to a £4.9m investment into Ysgol Melin Gruffydd when it moves to its new home.Mrs Richey said: “It won’t be big enough and I don’t want the disruption of my child’s education through temporary classrooms and a process of relocation. Why spend millions of pounds disrupting 1,000 childrens’ education?“The council needs to listen to the weight of public opinion against their ideas and work with the school governors and parents to find better solutions instead of refusing dialogue and new ideas when it has been offered.”Fellow parent Mike Phillips said: “It is to the staff and governors’ credit that years of effort mean we have a continuously improving school with a clear vision and excellent outputs. Not one council statement on this reorganisation talks about improving or even maintaining these standards.”Cardiff council claims its £160m programme aims to solve the problem of surplus places and an increasing demand for Welsh-medium education provision.A spokeswoman said: “The council is considering education provision across Cardiff and how we can develop a 21st-century schooling system that is both viable and successful, allowing children and young people to reach their potential and making the best possible use of available resources.”All objections to the reorganisation of Eglwys Newydd Primary School should be sent by July 25 to: email@example.com or Schools & Lifelong Learning, Cardiff County Council, County Hall, Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff CF10 4UW.
This is the final part of the process, now more than ever, we need to let the council know how we feel about these proposals. Please encourage as many people as possible to send in letters of objection. The council should be acknowledging excellent schools in Cardiff, not looking to close them.
School’s fun day cash will help it fight closure
Jul 10 2010 by Gareth Evans, South Wales EchoCAMPAIGNERS held an afternoon of activities to raise money for a legal challenge against the closure of their school.Whitchurch English-medium Eglwys Newydd Primary School is one of four schools set to be affected by a major schools shake-up in North Cardiff.The city council approved plans to close the Glan-y-Nant Road primary in April as part of a controversial reorganisation to expand Welsh-medium provision.But despite a technical error adding a delay to statutory proceedings, the authority stands by its plans for change.
The Save Eglwys Newydd Action Group yesterday invited the whole Whitchurch community to an after-school summer fun event on the school grounds.Takings from a talent show, bouncy castle, football tournament and barbecue will be used to try to keep the school open beyond 2012.Mum-of-three Annelle Hawkins, a school governor, knows of at least 3,000 objections to the council’s proposals.“There only has to be one person to oppose the plans for it to go to the Assembly for determination,” she said.“If the Assembly agrees with the council, we will instruct our solicitor immediately and send them a notice of our intention to challenge it legally.“They will need to think very carefully about what they are doing.“We are in a very similar situation to Lansdowne and we are sure our children would not get the same accommodation or standard of education if they are moved.”Under preferred proposals, Ysgol Melin Gruffydd would become a two-form entry school and relocate to the current Eglwys Newydd site. Eglwys Newydd and Eglwys Wen would be closed and a new 2.5 entry school opened on the current Eglwys Wen/Melin Gruffydd site. Cardiff North AM Jonathan Morgan, who manned the bar at yesterday’s event, said: “In addition to being the local Assembly Member, I am a governor of the school and very proud of its achievements and proud too that we as governors are taking an active interest in raising money for the school.
“I am convinced that this school, as with the other schools under threat in Whitchurch, has a viable, long-term future and we will continue to fight against the disgraceful attack made by the Plaid-Lib Dem council against educational standards in Cardiff North.”The Save Eglwys Newydd Action Group will run a stall at the annual Whitchurch village festival today, when members will canvass local residents for their support. Parents and children are being encouraged to wear their red protest T-shirts, sold at the school’s summer fete last month, to the event.
On 25th May, 2 statutory notices were published, one to close Eglwys Newydd and Eglwys Wen and establish a new 2.5 form entry English medium school on the current EW/YMG site. Ysgol melin Gruffydd to relocate to the current Eglwys Newydd site. The other statutory notice is to establish Whitchurch High School at an 11 form entry school from 2012 and a ten form entry from 2015.
Lack of educational justification – There can be no guarantee that the standard of education will equal or be better than the standard already offered to our children at the English medium schools.
Robustness of council figures – initially the council claimed that a 2 form entry would be sufficient for the EM school, this has now changed to 2.5 form entry, how confident are they in their figures? particularly with the rising birth rate.
Available finance – Council figures indicate that there are sufficient funds to improve the facilities at YMG.
Transition – Hundreds of children will have their education disrupted, with temporary accommodation and building work taking place on both sites.
Value for money – Eglwys Newydd provides excellent value for money, it costs the council just over £3,000 per learner, one of the lowest figures in Cardiff.
Local school – Some of the pupils who are classed as ‘out of catchment’ are in fact attending their closest school, closing Eglwys Newydd may result in more children needing to be driven to school.
High school links – the close proximity of Eglwys Newydd to Whitchurch High School gives pupils an excellent opportunity to use the facilities and strengthen links between the two schools.
Consultation process – the council are still failing to fulfil FOI requests which is reslting in a lack of confidence in their facts behind these proposals.
Out of hours childcare – the council have inadequately considered the Playstation, a business established with their backing. What provision will be available to the children who currently have a place for before and after school care, and the ones who are on waiting lists?
What to do now
Letters can be sent to the Chris Jones, Chief Schools and Lifelong learning Officer, Cardiff Council, County Hall, Atlantic Whalf, Cardiff, CF10 4UW.
Objections can be sent via email to EMears@cardiff.gov.uk
Letters and emails must contain the full name and postal address of the person making the objection if they are to be taken into account.
A copy should also be sent to Leighton Andrews, AM, Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning, Welsh Assembly Government, 5th Floor, Ty Hywel, Cardiff Bay, CF99 1NA.
The statutory notices for Eglwys Newydd and Whitchurch High School have been published separately, therefore if you are objecting to both they will need to be sent as separate letters.
If you want to you could also join the Facebook group called:
Save Eglwys Newydd and the community of Whitchurch