Parents frustrated by ‘ridiculous’ proposed school catchment maps

By Luke Williams   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 3rd March 2022 7:00 am
@LukePowysNews
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Some of the children from Bwlch who may be affected by the proposed catchment changes.
Some of the children from Bwlch who may be affected by the proposed catchment changes. (. )

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A group of families from a Powys village have voiced their frustration at the proposed catchment changes for primary and secondary schools.

Following the release of the proposed new catchment maps, parents from Bwlch have banded together to try and keep the village a dual catchment area.

Under the proposed new maps, the village would be outside the catchment for Llangynidr Primary School and Crickhowell High School for learners starting in autumn 2023. This would leave Bwlch solely in the area of Llangorse Primary School and Gwernyfed High School.

Lowrie Rees, one of the parents in the group, said: “Bwlch has been dual catchment for at least the last 40 years and we’d like it to stay that way. It’s ridiculous. Parents should have the choice of where to send their children.

“I know parents are sending in their emails and putting formal objections forward, so we’re hoping that our voices are heard.”

Key issues raised by parents include the breaking up of friendship groups and the effect that this could have on their children. One Bwlch parent highlighted how their child, who currently attends Crickhowell Primary School, could be split from his friends if the proposed catchment stays at it is and he is unable to attend the school.

A further issue raised was the potential effects that a loss of pupils could have on Llangynidr Primary School.

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The proposed catchment for Llangynidr Primary School. Bwlch and Llangynidr Primary School have both been circled for clarity. (Powys County Council via Ordnance Survey. ) (Powys County Council via Ordnance Survey.)

Mrs Rees added: “We’ve got several children in the village who would like to go to Llangyndir Primary - who may not be able to go in the future if these maps are finalised. It’s awful to think of the effect that this could have on a small village school.”

Parents are still be able to apply for their child to attend a school outside its catchment area, although there would be no entitlement to a place and would likely need to go through application scrutiny and an appeals process.

Llangattock councillor Jackie Charlton has been made aware of the concerns of parents in Llangynidr and Bwlch to the changes in the catchment area.

As the candidate for the new Llangattock/Llangynidr Ward in the May elections this could become an issue for many in Llangynidr as the school numbers may drop, creating difficult decisions for the governing body.

Cllr Charlton said: “There are many changes going on in primary and secondary education locally right now and parents are understandably concerned about the implications of the proposals on the new catchment for Bwlch.

“We know that children make strong bonds in friendships early on which remain throughout their school lives. Bwlch is much closer to Llangynidr than Llangors or Brecon. Parents want their children to make local links out of school as well as in school. These proposals make a mockery of local links.”

The consultation on the catchment maps closes on Monday, March 14. The county council has reassured residents that all the views submitted will be considered before the documents are finalised.

Cllr Phyl Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Property, said: “The Admissions Information and Arrangement booklet is an important document for parents when the time comes for them to apply for place either at an early-years setting, primary school or secondary school for their child.

“The booklet defines how the council will apply its admissions arrangements when considering applications. Although parents have the right to express a preference for a place in any school, consideration will be given to the catchment maps if a school is over-subscribed.

“It is important that we seek the views of people living in the county on the admissions arrangements for 2023/24 and the catchment map so their views are considered before these documents are finalised.”

To take part in the public consultation on catchment maps, please visit https://bit.ly/3hsS6O0

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