Flintshire education shake-up may be scrapped

Reporter:

Jim Green

A MAJOR shake-up of Flintshire’s secondary schools that sparked outrage among parents could now be scrapped.

Flintshire Council plans to modernise the county's high schools hang in the balance after a cut in Welsh Government funding.

Education minister Leighton Andrews said last week the national school building programme 21st Century Schools would not go ahead as planned.

Councils were told to review their proposals in light of reduced capital funding which meant they would now be required to contribute 50 per cent of project costs instead of 30 per cent.

Mr Andrews said the decision was taken following a 40 per cent cut in the Welsh Government’s budget from Westminster.

Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami said the consultation process had been mismanaged from the beginning.

“The new financial challenge, as a result of cuts to the Welsh Assembly budget, only leads to more uncertainty for staff, students and parents of the schools involved,” he said.

Delyn MP David Hanson said: “The proposals from the council have caused considerable concern locally.

“The financial pressures now put on the Assembly from the Westminster government’s financial cutbacks have added a further challenge.

“I have had many constituents contact me about the proposal for the Argoed school, an excellent performing school, in particular and I know they would wish the council to revisit these proposals urgently in the light of these developments."

Argoed councillor Hilary McGuill said the announcement was good news for parents campaigning to save Argoed High School in Mynydd Isa.

“I never understood why the Argoed school was involved in the first place,” she said.

“It is an excellent school and I hope this means the council will now look again at its plans.”

Cllr Nigel Steele-Mortimer, Flintshire Council executive member for lifelong learning, said: “All parties within the 21st Century Schools programme recognise the responsibilities that we have to learners across Wales in relation to education attainment, improving outcomes and ensuring we have cost effective delivery putting our resources into excellent education.

“The financial climate dictates that reprioritisation does occur and we need to work closely to examine all potentially new sources of funding available to update our school environments and to ensure the right provision in the right place for the future.

“The current consultations are part of this work.”

- Earlier this year Flintshire Council announced plans to merge and close schools provoking anger among pupils, parents, teachers and communities.

Options under consideration include almagamating Argoed High School in Mynydd Isa with Elfed High School in Buckley and merging John Summers High School in Queensferry with Connah's Quay High School.

The council also proposed creating a super-school in Holywell with a primary and secondary school on one site.

The estimated total cost of the project could be as much as £200 million.

A consultation is now being undertaken to gather people’s opinions on the proposed changes

See full story in the Leader

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