Flintshire Council pressing ahead with school reviews

Reporter:

Lois Hough

SCHOOLS across Flintshire are to come under the microscope as the council presses ahead with modernisation plans.

At a meeting of the council’s executive yesterday, councillors agreed to move forward with a programme of area reviews to determine the future of the county’s education system.

A school modernisation strategy, which revealed a huge variation in the cost of educating pupils at the county’s primary schools, suggested some schools would either merge or close to overcome the cost of unfilled places.

Flint councillor Ian Roberts welcomed the latest round of reviews.

He added: “We asked for these reviews in a scrutiny committee months ago, so I am pleased that they have finally been commissioned.

“The reviews will get to the heart of the problem.

“There is a considerable difference in the cost per pupil of schools in Flintshire.

“For example, it costs Ewloe Green Primary School £2,605 compared to more than £6,800 at Ysgol Maes Edwin, Flint, which has more surplus places. The schools will be reviewed and then it could mean amalgamations, federations or very regrettably, closures.

“We need the best solution for the pupils in Flintshire and sadly there is a cost for surplus places.

“We need to get to grips with this issue.”

All schools where at least a quarter of places are unfilled are to be reviewed.

The school modernisation strategy report said: “We face a challenge.

“The challenge is to ensure our schools continue to provide an appropriate ‘fit for purpose’ environment at a time when there is limited money to deliver increasing expectations.”

Ian Budd, Flintshire Council’s director of lifelong learning, said: “The planning and improvement of school places is a long-standing responsibility of any council.

“(Inspection body) Estyn said the council was making rapid progress in gathering information on schools, but there are key decisions and challenges to be met to deliver 21st century schools and post-16 transformation.

Cllr Nigel Steele-Mortimer, executive member for education and youth, said: “We need to adopt this strategy and go forward with it. We’re very positive about this. Let’s go ahead with it.”

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