The fate of the Welsh language school in the holiday home hotspot will be decided next week

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Ysgol Abersoch School

Gareth Wyn Williams, local democracy journalist

The fate of a Welsh-language primary school will be sealed next week amid claims the closure will turn the holiday home hotspot into a ‘ghost town’ for chunks of the year.

Just before its 100th anniversary after opening in 1924, Ysgol Abersoch will close at the end of 2021 if approved by the Cabinet of Council.

If members approve the officers’ recommendation, the eight full-time students and two kindergarten students would be given free transport to Ysgol Sarn Bach from January.

According to figures, the school currently costs the authority £17,404 per person, more than four times the county average of £4,198.

But the closure has been criticized by groups such as Cymdeithas yr Iaith, who described Gwynedd Council’s approach as “blindline” and that Abersoch was already suffering from a holiday home problem.

A recent consultation attracted more than 200 responses as well as two separate petitions, each containing 1,115 and 1,884 signatures against the school closure.

One respondent claimed that leaving Abersoch without a primary school would make it “a tourist vacation spot for a few months a year and a ghost town for the rest”.

Another said: ‘Without the school Abersoch has no focal point, heart and soul will be gone.’

‘Not easy’

The school can accommodate 32 but is operating at only a quarter of its capacity despite the village having a full-time population of 783, with projections showing that the number of pupils will increase only slightly over the next few years.

Furthermore, it was stated that of the 26 eligible children living in the catchment area, 21 were currently attending schools other than Abersoch.

Cllr Cemlyn Williams, Cabinet Member of Gwynedd Council for Education, said: ‘Making a decision on the future of a school is not easy and we fully appreciate that this has been a difficult time for all involved. at school.

“I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the discussions on the future of Ysgol Abersoch, including students, staff and governors, as well as those who contributed to the consultation and statutory objection periods.

“It’s always sad when the future of a school hangs in the balance. However, we have a duty to ensure that we provide the best possible education and experiences and the best possible learning environment.

“After fully considering all objections, it is recommended to confirm the proposal to close Ysgol Abersoch at the end of 2021.

“There is understandably a desire in Abersoch to see the school continue, and every effort will be made to ensure that there will be a strong bond between the community and Ysgol Sarn Bach.”

‘Imprudent’

The school currently educates children up to the age of eight before they move to Ysgol Sarn Bach, based 2.2 km away.

But any closure would see children receive their full primary education at Sarn Bach.

Speaking in June, cabinet member Ioan Thomas claimed ‘it makes no sense’ that a school would only educate children up to the age of eight, while pointing to the vast gap in spending per student relative to others.

But Cllr Dewi Wyn Roberts, who represents Abersoch on the authority, has always opposed the closure, saying it would result in the loss of a ‘historic resource’ in the village.

‘Recently I was listening to the planning committee discussing the construction of 12 houses in the Penygroes area and the fact that there is local demand for this type of development for the local population,’ he added.

“One of the concerns raised was the ability of local schools to accept more children which will increase with this development. It highlights the fact that resources within the company are important in future plans.

“This decision is completely contrary to the Council’s ambition.

“The decision to close the school is reckless but closing the school in the middle of the school year and moving the children to another school makes no sense and will have a negative impact on the children’s education, if it is to close so why not postpone it to the end of the school year?

A decision is expected at the cabinet meeting next Tuesday, September 28.


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