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Heads respond to schools proposal

Created on 10/12/2010 @ 14:49


Here, mywelshpool carries a collective response from the county’s headteachers in reaction to the Powys County Council proposals for secondry school reform:
This response is based on initial considerations.
“We commend the Officers for the manner in which they appear to have taken on board the responses to the initial round of consultation. As a group we welcome whole heartedly the commitment to ensuring that secondary education is protected and maintained on all thirteen school sites.  Our secondary schools are not just the heart of our communities but also they are all significant employers in many cases amongst the largest local employers and so this commitment has sound educational benefits but also wider social and financial benefits for our communities.
We welcome the proposal to reduce surplus capacity by removal of premises including redundant mobile classrooms which are unfit for purpose. Many Heads have been urging this for a number of years. We also welcome the possibility of new buildings to replace other ageing premises.
There is strong support for the aim to provide the highest quality bilingual learning provision but some concern that strengthening Welsh medium provision in some schools might in practice lead to a reduction in other schools to the detriment of their communities.
We are more cautious in our response to the split campus proposal. It is a bold groundbreaking idea without precedence in Wales. An initial analysis suggests that the savings may be over estimated and the complexities of running such schools underestimated. The resulting savings are potentially relatively small and perhaps outweighed by the disadvantages of the large multi campus proposal.
Some believe that there should be a more detailed analysis of the benefits of all through schooling on split campuses in effect federating some current primary and secondary clusters.
There is some concern about equality of treatment across Powys when some communities will benefit from the retention of single campus relatively small schools whereas others have disparate communities being served by a large multi campus school with sites large travelling distances apart. This could impact on the ability of some schools to meet the need for increasing community focus.
There is a greater level of concern over post 16 proposals. Many Heads believe that a vibrant sixth form in a school benefits the whole school community raising standards across the school. The Hub and spoke model does not retain sixth forms in all schools and this is a concern. However most Heads regard this as a significantly more acceptable way forward than the notion of a tertiary approach.
Powys Secondary Heads lead some of the most successful schools in Wales achieving excellent results at GCSE and A level and are committed to continuing this level of success. To do so requires a continuing focus on the communities the schools serve reflecting the different needs of the various parts of Powys. We are mindful that the current high level of success is due to the excellent teams of teachers and other professionals that work in our schools, the support of the local community especially Governors and need to ensure that the future of all of these is kept firmly in mind.
We are pleased therefore to accept the invitation from the modernisation team to use our energies and considerable expertise to work with them to ensure that the eventual outcome is the best for the young people of Powys.”
John Hopkins
Chairman Powys Secondary Heads
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