Monday June 24th 2013
I am disgusted and extremely angry about the published proposed plans to close John Beddoes School in Presteigne, despite the outcome of the so-called “consultation” process, which unleashed a torrent of public opinion in favour of retaining OUR school for OUR town. This public opinion appears to have been completely ignored.
The county council has obviously NO REGARD whatsoever for the future security and welfare of our young people and it is laughable to expect us to think that this decision is governed by ANY concerns other than financial ones. We pay our council taxes here in East Radnorshire and are being victimized – firstly by the proposed closure of a wonderful primary school at Beguildy and now by this LUDICROUS proposal to amalgamate our High school with one 30 miles away. At the public meeting held at John Beddoes school on 14th May the county council put the blame for this decision on the Welsh Education Minister, but it since appears that THEY are responsible for this mad scheme.
I understand that Powys County Council is obliged to refer any objections to their proposals to the Welsh Minister for Education Mr Leighton Andrews. Please consider this letter as a STRONG OBJECTION.
I am copying below my letter to you of a month ago and I am hoping that in the absence of any sound minds on the Powys County Council, SOMEONE at a higher level in Welsh Government will LISTEN to and take notice of the arguments put forward for maintaining OUR school for OUR community.
I live in Presteigne, I am a teacher myself and my daughter (now a graduate with a First Class degree from the University of Exeter) attended the school and did very well there.
I am a passionate supporter of finding a way of maintaining OUR OWN High School with OUR OWN Headteacher and OUR OWN Board of governors, based here in OUR OWN thriving community of Presteigne. The proposals being put forward by the County Council give us the distinct impression that since we are on the fringes of East Radnorshire we are being fobbed off with an arrangement that would not be tolerated elsewhere. Did the community of Newtown get this treatment when their High School was in special measures ten years ago? No it did not – the school was helped to IMPROVE.
Everyone in our school and community is very grateful for the LEPS scheme and the excellent input from NewtownHigh school. Noone disputes the fact that the school has already improved in leaps and bounds due to this intervention. This rapid improvement illustrates that leadership has been lacking in the school for many years and it is a tragedy for the students that this lack of leadership issue has been unaddressed by the County Council and the Welsh Government for so long.
We all hope that under the LEPS scheme the current progress will be allowed to continue for a set period of 18months but that when the school is back on its feet (as it undoubtedly will be) it can hold the reins itself.
Parents are regaining confidence in the school BUT in order for them to commit to the school they want to be sure of the stability of the school’s future long term. This confidence will be lacking if the school has no headteacher and no governing body of its own. Under the scheme you are proposing John Beddoes would in effect be a school without a head or subject and pastoral leaders on the premises for much of the time. What possesses you to think that in view of the distance involved, this could possible be a practicable solution long term? It is madness to think that John Beddoes school in Presteigne could become geographically or in any other way in effect a satellite of NewtownHigh School.
We all know you are committed to the right of ALL Welsh children to have a distinctive Welsh education and learn the Welsh language. If John Beddoes school is closed or if parents see its future as uncertain, the majority of children in East Radnorshire will end up being educated over the border in England and they will have to forego this right.
PLEASE listen to the views of our community and allow the excellent LEPS scheme to work and keep our school open, but this is essentially an interim measure and
ultimately we need a school CONTROLLED and LED BY OUR OWN COMMUNITY.
Can you put your hand on your heart and say that the options being offered to us here in Presteigne are in the interest of our children and their education as the centre of our community?
Can you honestly expect us to believe that the underlying interests are anything but purely governed by financial considerations?
East Radnorshire is ALREADY in danger of losing a thriving primary school – Beguildy – which would signify the death of another rural community.
Are you hoping that we will all move to England and that this troublesome outpost of Wales will cease to be a problem?
I implore you to think again and reconsider the options you are offering so that we can be proud of our own LOCAL school. PLEASE don’t let the long and proud history of John Beddoes school fizzle out like a damp squib.