Reprieve for Wrexham sixth forms under threat of closure

Reporter:

Lois Hough

THREATENED sixth forms at the Maelor School in Penley and Ysgol Rhiwabon look set to remain open.

Dozens of parents and teachers descended on Wrexham’s Guildhall last night to oppose plans to axe the sixth forms and send pupils to the town’s Yale College.

Instead, members of Wrexham Council’s children and young people’s scrutiny committee voted to create a sixth form consortium between the 11-18 schools in the county.

Their choice will come before the executive board who will submit a final decision to the Welsh Assembly.

John Davies, the council’s chief learning and achievement officer, tried to persuade members that the closure of sixth forms at Penley and Ruabon would benefit pupils in the long-term.

“It’s an emotive issue because what we are looking at will result in significant change in the schools and the local authority,” he said.

“This is such a complex area that there is no perfect solution, else we would have found it by now.

“It doesn’t mean ‘Let’s send everyone to Yale’ because it’s extremely unlikely it could carry on the way it is.

“If this option was chosen, then the services at Yale would be enhanced.”
Mr Davies added: “The best interests of pupils in Wrexham was at the heart of this process.”

But he faced a panel of tough critics.

Chirk North councillor Ian Roberts said: “We’re going to lose a lot of our pupils to England. We have to look at the amount of travelling these kids would be expected to do.

“There are 2,800 pupils at Yale at the moment. These children who are used to relatively small schools are going to be lost in Yale.

“We face the danger of pushing pupils out of Wrexham.”

Ruabon councillor Barrie Price said: “Education is one of the golden keys of life. I would like to retain the sixth form at Ruabon which has this year achieved excellent A-level results. Yale college has a capacity issue and could not cater for an extra 300 students.

“If it is not broken, then why do the Welsh Assembly feel they have to fix it?”

Concerned teachers at the meeting also made their feelings known.

Jane Wilson, deputy head at Ysgol Rhiwabon, said: “Staff redundancies will be major and it will mean up to 20 job losses between both schools. It will have a huge impact.”

But Brynyffynnon councillor Phil Wynn said the council needed to take advantage of facilities at Yale College.

He said: “We want to deliver value for money but a quality service. We want Yale to be the flagship and we need more pupils to go there.”

The issue will come before the executive board on on November 2 which will make a final decision on the options available.

It will then be submitted to the Welsh Assembly which will launch an extensive consultation and come back with its findings in January.

See full story in the Leader

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