Wales Promised Fewer Schools, Fewer Students; EDUCATION: Six More Closures Agreed

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 26, 2002 | Go to article overview

Wales Promised Fewer Schools, Fewer Students; EDUCATION: Six More Closures Agreed


Byline: TOMOS LIVINGSTONE

LABOUR'S election promise of education, education, education sounds very hollow in Wales today.

More rural schools are facing closure, there are proposed cuts in teacher-training courses and the rising cost of education for children with special needs is weighing heavily on the system.

Six schools in Monmouthshire were pushed to the brink of closure yesterday.

The move came as a bitter blow to parents who have seen the hopes they had for their children's education in a local school dashed by a National Assembly policy which makes it easier to close rural schools in Wales than in England.

Meanwhile, school-leavers hoping for a career in teaching may have their career plans curtailed by proposed cuts on training courses.

National Assembly officials want to reduce the number of places on primary-school teacher-training courses in Wales. Such a move would not only undermine the Labour Party's manifesto commitment of getting 50pc of people into higher education by 2010 but would reduce competition for places in Welsh schools and could store up teacher recruitment problems for the future.

Figures just released by the Assembly show that the cost of supplying education for children with special needs has spiralled 14pc to more than pounds 200m.

Local government leaders and teaching unions warn that the system is on the verge of crisis and is in need of change.

The only good news on the Welsh education front is that the average class size has fallen marginally, albeit against the background of falling pupil numbers.

At Monmouthshire County Hall in Cwmbran yesterday there was a palpable sense of frustration among parents of pupils whose schools are due to close. More than 100 people listened as councillors voted in favour of closing Abergavenny schools at Llanfoist, Llanover, Llanellen and Llanfair Kilgeddin and Caldicot schools St David's and Green Lane. …

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