Gwynedd school shake up could lead to "civil war"

Reporter:

James Wilde

A CONTROVERSIAL restructure of Gwynedd schools could cause “civil war” according to one county councillor.

A report - titled Principles of an Education System that will be Fit for Purpose - put forward by Cllr Gareth Thomas, cabinet member for education,says the number of secondary schools could be cut in half from 14 to six or seven.

Council bosses say this is to “ensure that the children and young people of Gwynedd achieve the highest standards in order to maintain the language, culture and economy locally.”

It is understood that most of the 95 primary schools in the area would stay open but would share headteachers and management.

Gwynedd councillor Alwyn Gruffydd, said: “This is foolhardy. The schools are suffering because the headteachers are being given extra responsibility with less support. They need to address this and that will go some way to rectifying the issue.

“If they go down this planned route it will cause civil war and the consequences will be similar to 2008 (when Plaid Cymru lost their seat) and this will happen again.”

Neil Foden, chair of the National Union Of Teachers (NUT) in Wales and headteacher at Ysgol Friars, Bangor (inset), said the current system in schools isn’t viable and that changes needed to be made.

Mr Foden added: “There are a lot of schools in the area where headteachers are having to teach aswell as doing their head duties meaning they are juggling two jobs, I wouldn’t do it. I know one head is being shared across four schools.

“Gwynedd don’t have the resources, meaning schools are potentially suffering. Applicants aren’t attracted to the area because of this and of how rural it is.”

Mr Foden agrees with Cllr Gruffydd that more needs to be done to support teaching staff.

He said: “Now that assistant head isn’t a required position in schools, many were dismissed as a cost saving measure meaning that a lot of staff end up in headteacher roles without having the experience of climbing the ladder. More help is needed to equip them.”

The report will be put to headteachers and governors before any policies are put in place by the authority. The report recommends: "The number of registered schools should be reduced to the lowest viable number required so as to create sustainable, successful learning environments."

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