School idea size should be 210 pupils says education boss

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Wednesday, December 1st, 2021 5:02pm

By Elgan Hearn - Local Democracy Reporter

The ideal size of school in Powys, according to an education boss, is  210 pupils, and this would made up of seven classes of 30 pupils.

Last month, Cllr Phyl Davies, cabinet member for education explained in a meeting that in his opinion the ideal school size should be in the “middle hundreds.

This would put many more primary schools under threat of closure.

Under the question at anytime process, Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt asked for clarity in what he meant as “middle hundreds.”

In his answer Cllr Davies said: “For a single form of 30 in a primary school, the school size would be 210 learners.

“This would consist of one class teacher per year group from reception up to year six plus the headteacher.”

Documents that were used last month at meetings when the future of Llanbedr Church in Wales primary school was discussed, showed cost per pupil and school pupil numbers for all schools in Powys.

According to the data shown, only four of 78 primary schools in the whole of Powys have 210 pupils or more.

Out of 78 schools 14 have between 150 and 210 pupils.

The need to have a school big enough to implement the new national curriculum in Wales, has become an important consideration in closing a primary school and has been discussed in depth at several council meetings this year.

The new curriculum for Wales is based on six broad areas of learning and experience.

Literacy, numeracy, and digital skills need to be integrated into all lessons.

It sets a framework around which individual schools are meant build their own curriculum tailored for their pupils and communities.

Education officers and their advisers have argued that small schools with small numbers of staff would find it difficult and time consuming  to develop the curriculum and ensure that pupils have equality of access across all six areas.

They believe that bigger schools can share the burden across their teaching staff and could “play to a teachers strength”  by having them look after one of the areas that they could have specialist knowledge in.

The Welsh Government defines a small school as one of 91 pupils or under.

Of the list of 78 Powys primary schools, there are 38 with rolls of 91 pupils or under.

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