Community stands united over planned school closure

Reporter:

Jim Green

HUNDREDS of angry parents, pupils and teachers are expected to take part in a protest march against plans to shut a Flintshire school.

Community groups and residents will march alongside campaigners who are fighting to save the closure-threatened Argoed High School in Mynydd Isa.

Organisers hope more than 500 protesters will march through the village on Sunday sending a clear message to councillors.

Flintshire Council is currently carrying out a consultation on its plans to modernise secondary school education

Options being considered include almagamating Argoed High School with Elfed High School in Buckley and merging John Summers High School in Queensferry with Connah’s Quay High School.

A super-school in Holywell with a primary and secondary school on one site could also be created.

But Argoed parent Carla Stubbings said: “Closing the school will rip the heart out of our community, devalue our houses, threaten small businesses and force clubs and societies to find new venues.”

Anne Trevor, whose daughter also attends the school, said: “The march will rally the community and let Flintshire Council know how strongly people feel about the issue.

“The knock-on effects of closing the school would be huge. I will be devastated if it is closed.”

Flintshire Council is currently carrying out a consultation on its plans to modernise secondary school education.

A series of drop-in sessions are being held until the end of September to gather people’s opinions on the proposed changes.

But a consultation event at Argoed High School last Wednesday was described as a “disaster” by parents.

An estimated 1,500 people turned up but many left early after being unable to hear what was being said while some were turned away due to overcrowding.

Dominic Cawdell, who is spearheading the Campaign 4 Flintshire Schools, said: “People were very angry after the consultation event and felt they had been ignored and unable to have their say.

“The campaign is definitely gathering momentum. We are more determined than ever to make sure our opinions are heard.”

The council has proposed six options for Argoed High School which include merging it with Elfed High School or closing it altogether.

Campaigners are urging councillors to vote for option four which would not have any impact on the school.

They have set up a website to support their campaign and more than 1,500 people have signed a petition against closing the school.

The march will leave from the school gates at 2pm on Sunday, July 24.

- COMMUNITY leaders were also left unimpressed after last week’s consultation event at John Summers High School in Queensferry.

Hundreds of pupils and parents packed the school hall for the meeting on Monday, July 11.

Visitors had the opportunity to talk to education chiefs and fill in and submit a feedback form.

But Shotton West Cllr Ann Minshull said the event was a “shambles”.

“It should have been a formal meeting where parents could put their questions to Mr Budd on a stage but instead he is surrounded by people all talking at once trying to have their say,” she said.

Sealand Cllr Christine Jones said: “We wanted a proper, structured meeting but nothing like this.

“The executive should be on that stage taking questions from an audience.”

Ian Budd, director of lifelong learning said: “The ‘open forum approach’ allows many more people to participate in the process and get their points of view across.”

A spokesman for Flintshire Council added it would continue to liaise with schools over arrangements for consultation events in September and focus on enabling as many people as possible to participate in discussions.

- Shotton councillor Ann Minshull will be giving residents in Shotton High Street the chance to sign a petition against the closure of John Summers High School. Cllr Minshull will be outside Iceland store from 9am on Saturday.

See full story in the Leader

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