THE mistakes in forming Ysgol Calon Cymru should not deter Powys Council from other high school mergers, a councillor has said.

At a meeting of the governance and audit committee on Friday, January 21 councillors discussed a report by Powys County Council’s internal auditors Swap which criticised the Ysgol Calon Cymru merger options.

The high schools in Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells opened as a single entity – Ysgol Calon Cymru – on September 1, 2018, but has been plagued by financial problems since then.

Councillors had called for a probe into the circumstances of setting up Ysgol Calon Cymru so that understanding what went wrong there, can help future school reorganisation projects.

And Cllr David Jones told the committee that the merger between Presteigne and Newtown high schools from 2014 had been successful.

Cllr Jones said: “My big fear is that the mistakes made here mean that the council has turned its face absolutely against looking at the possible merger of high schools.

“We have got high schools that are very close together and we to need to see mergers between some of these.

“Size matters, the number of pupils in a school is a big issue. We are trying to run with too many small high schools.”

Head of transformation and communication, Emma Palmer pointed out that creating all-age schools and not merged high schools was the current strategy.

Ms Palmer said: “If you looked at education purely on pupil numbers in Powys, you would only have eight high schools and 21 primary schools.

“The challenge from the communities of Powys is that would be unacceptable.

“The shift to all age schools is a way of keeping provision in every locality.”

Cllr William Powell said:  “I do remember Cllr Jones as a board member and as leader, did preside over two or more successful catchment-based area reviews of provision.

“In the end despite the pain, they were well received and judged to be educationally successful."

The committee noted that the report gave them a partial assurance and the report will also go on to be discussed at a learning and skills scrutiny committee.

Key findings from the report that the council accepts include:

  • That the options appraisal was simplistic.
  • Its financial analysis of the Ysgol Calon Cymru proposal was too simplistic.