A KEY COUNCIL committee is to consider proposals which could mean the closure of four schools in the Aeron Valley and the creation of a new school in Felinfach as their replacement.
ON MONDAY (May 9), Ceredigion County Council’s Learning Oversight and Scrutiny Committee will consider a report from Barry Rees, the Council’s director in charge of learning and partnerships relating to educational provision in the Aberaeron area.
The Aberaeron district is the second district to be reviewed under the Policy, following the review of the Aberystwyth area.
The Aberaeron district includes 10 Primary Schools of varying sizes which feed Aberaeron Comprehensive School. Some of the primary schools in the Aberaeron district border other school districts. That means that some of the pupils in the Aberaeron school family, attend Secondary schools outside the area.
The report notes that the Aberaeron district can be broken into two parts:
(a). Aeron Valley Schools to the east of the town of Aberaeron: Cilcennin, Ciliau Parc, Dihewyd and Felinfach Primary Schools and
(b). Coastal Schools / on the A487 highway to the north and South of the town of Aberaeron: Aberaeron, Llanarth, Llanon, New Quay, Talgarreg and Bro Sion Cwilt Primary Schools.
It is the schools identified in the first of those parts which appear likely to be subject of reorganisation and closures.
One of their number, Ysgol Dihewyd, only narrowly escaped closure in 2014. At the time a Council spokesperson said that the transfer of pupils from an neighbouring school in Trefilan: “would ensure that pupil numbers at Dihewyd have increased sufficiently for the school to remain above the threshold figure for the foreseeable future.”
One of the key issues that will need to be considered is the Welsh Government’s policy on eliminating surplus school places.
According to Welsh Government figures from 2014, there are nearly 100,000 surplus school places across Wales. In the three years up to 2014, 123 schools in Wales closed, most of them small schools in rural areas. T h e cost of maintaining surplus places is difficult to assess.
While Estyn claims that ‘in the primary sector in Wales in 2011-2012, the average cost of a surplus place was £260’. Estyn also suggests that closing a primary school yields potential savings of £63,500 plus £260 for each surplus place removed.
However, those calculations do not take into account the cost to a community – especially a small rural one – of losing its school. In most small villages with a school, the school building is the only civic building of any size.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Wales has also observed that surplus places are not necessarily either spare or inappropriate.
Saying that considering schools’ future purely on the number of places: ‘would have a huge impact on rural schools where often it’s a case there are less than a dozen pupils and perhaps schools are kept open with very few pupils knowing that there will be a blip in uptake in several years’ time’.
Notwithstanding those observations and concerns expressed by Estyn about the poor quality of data on surplus school places, the Welsh Government imposed quotas on councils to reduce surplus places with funding penalties for non-compliance.
The Schools figures for the Aberaeron district seem to suggest that there is a significant number of surplus places at both Llanarth and Cilcennin schools.
Llanarth has a capacity of 84 pupils, but is projected to have only three quarters of those places filled each academic year through to 2021. At Cilcennin, a capacity of 52 student places, there is a projection that barely 40% of available spaces will be filled by 2021.
There are four possible options outlined in the report before the scrutiny committee.
Option 1: continue with the current situation of 10 schools within the Aberaeron district
Option 2: Close Cilcennin School (which has the lowest number of pupils and the highest percentage of surplus places)
Option 3: Establish a new area school in the Aeron Valley located on the Professional Education Centre campus, Felinfach (for the pupils of Ciliau Parc, Cilcennin, Dihewyd and Felinfach)
Option 4: Build a new area school on a central site within the Aeron Valley (for the pupils of Ciliau Parc, Cilcennin, Dihewyd and Felinfach)
The strengths and weaknesses of each of those proposals are summarised in the report before the scrutiny committee. While that document is careful not to rule out or rule in any of those options, it is clear that the status quo is not a recommendation likely to be advanced, while no capital provision has been made within the Council budget for option four.
From the list of advantages set out for option three, it would be hard not to conclude that it will emerge as the favoured option – a l t h o u g h there will be significant logistical issues to resolve with co-location of a school new Theatr Felinfach.
NO DECISION YET
A spokesperson for the County Council told The Herald: “No decisions on the future of educational provision in the Aberaeron area have yet been made.
“However, in accordance with Ceredigion’s School Review Policy, a review was recently carried out on provision in the Aberaeron area. The outcomes of the review will be discussed by Ceredigion’s Learning Communities Scrutiny Committee on Monday 9th May.
“The formation of an area school to replace four primary schools in the Dyffryn Aeron area is included as one of the possible outcomes of the review. Feedback from the Scrutiny Committee will be discussed by Ceredigion Cabinet on 17 May.
“Depending on the outcome of Cabinet discussions, they may ask the School Review Panel to consider one or more of the proposals of the area review. In Ceredigion, the final decision on any school closure is made by the full Council after a full consultation process.”
The details of the report and the agenda for Monday’s meeting are on the Ceredigion Council website www. ceredigion.gov.uk – following the pathway: resident, council committees and meetings, Scrutiny, Learning Communities and then select date 9.05.16.
Meat Loaf dead: Bat Out of Hell singer dies aged 74
SINGING legend Meat Loaf has died at the age of 74 after a stellar career spanning six decades.
Born Marvin Lee Aday in Texas, but known as Michael Lee Aday thoughout his life, he shot to fame with his powerful, wide-ranging voice.
The rock veteran sold millions of albums worldwide, with the Bat Out Of Hell trilogy among his most popular musical offerings.
He was honoured with the Hero Award at the annual Q Awards music ceremony in 2016, which he dedicated to everyday heroes and called on people to “bring love back into this world”.
In a heartbreaking tribute posted on the star’s official Facebook page, it was revealed the star passed away on Thursday night with wife Deborah by his side, The Sun reported
The statement reads: “Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side.
“Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.
“His amazing career spanned 6 decades that saw him sell over 100 Million albums worldwide and star in over 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World. Bat Out of Hell remains one of the top 10 selling albums of all time.
“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man.
“We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time. From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”
Meat Loaf’s cause of death has not yet been revealed.
His colourful career saw him not only wow fans with his music, but also with his theatrics as he appeared in more than 50 movies and television shows – including the 1997 film Spice World.
Written and produced by Jim Steinman, singles from Bat Out of Hell, Two of Three Ain’t Bad and Paradise by the Dashboard Light, were both certified platinum in 2018.
He sold more 100 million albums worldwide.
The rock star was born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas, Texas, in 1947, forming his first band Meat Loaf Soul in the 1960s.
In 2016, he was forced to deny he had dead or almost dead as he had been plagued with health issues and rumours that he had died after collapsing on stage in June that year.
A cause of death will not be released.
Half a million boost to Aberystwyth University’s new nursing education facilities
A £500,000 grant from the Welsh Government will fund new facilities at Aberystwyth University for its nursing courses which will start in September this year.
The announcement comes six months after the University’s plans to offer nursing qualifications for the first time were given the go-ahead by Health Education and Improvement Wales.
The money will be used to invest in facilities at the University’s new Healthcare Education Centre, located opposite Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth.
The plans include capital works and the purchase of equipment to create a suite of high quality clinical practice rooms, as part of a £1.7 million University investment at the site.
The new centre will include a Clinical Skills Unit with high fidelity simulation areas that reflect the patient’s journey from home and community services through to assessment, planned and acute care.
Work on the facilities is due to be completed in March this year, in time for the first nursing students to begin their studies in September.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan MS said:
“The people who work in the NHS are its lifeblood. Investing in training and the future workforce is a priority for us. I’m delighted our funding is helping to support a new phase for Aberystwyth University in providing nursing training.
“The new facility provides students with invaluable training in a rural setting and builds on the work of CARER (Community and Rural Education Route) programme, giving them experience of working closely with clinicians and patients in community settings.
“Over the past five years training places for nurses have increased by 72% in Wales and we are pleased that we have retained the NHS bursary for student nurses to support people into a career in nursing.
“I look forward to visiting the new centre when it opens in the spring and meeting those starting out on the journey to be becoming a nurse”.
Aberystwyth University Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure added:
“During the pandemic, the work of our nurses, and that of other NHS and care workers, has been nothing short of extraordinary. It is a great honour that we will be educating nurses here in Aberystwyth for the first time this September.
“We are very grateful to the Welsh Government for this important investment to support the development. The funding will help ensure that the new students have access to the best resources and a high quality education when they start in September.
“The Healthcare Education Centre will benefit the local recruitment and retention of nurses in mid-Wales, and offer wider benefits to the area. It also has the potential to inspire new models of healthcare delivery. Supporting community needs, in close co-operation with our partners, is central to our civic mission; and establishing nursing education here is an important part of that. Our plans will also make an important contribution to enhancing mental health and Welsh-medium provision locally and beyond.
“A big thanks goes to everyone who has been a part of developing our plans to provide nursing education here – including the Welsh Government, the local health boards and Ceredigion County Council – without whom these exciting developments would not be possible.”
The proposals to establish nursing education were developed by Aberystwyth University in co-operation with a number of partners including the Hywel Dda, Betsi Cadwaladr and Powys local health boards as well as service users and carers.
The new degree courses will also offer students the opportunity to study up to half of their course through the medium of Welsh.
26 January this year is the closing date to apply to study as part of the first cohort of nursing students at Aberystwyth University.
More information is available by going to www.aber.ac.uk/en/hec
Financial support for businesses impacted by coronavirus restrictions
FINANCIAL support is available for retail, hospitality, leisure, tourism, freelancers in the creative sector and supply chain businesses in Ceredigion who have been impacted by the latest coronavirus restrictions.
The Emergency Financial Support has opened today (January 20 2022) and is available under a new Welsh Government support package following the move to Alert Level 2 in December 2021.
Businesses in Ceredigion are encouraged to check their eligibility and apply online: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/business/covid-19-supporting-ceredigions-economy/business-emergency-support-fund/
The following business grants are available:
· Non-Domestic Rate Grant
Retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business and their supply chains who are registered for Non-Domestic Rates and meet the qualifying criteria may be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.
· Emergency Business Fund
This grant will provide support to businesses in the retail, leisure and tourism businesses, freelancers in the creative sector and related supply chain businesses who do not have a property or are not eligible to apply for the Non Domestic Rates Grant (NDR). Businesses who do not employ anyone apart from the owner (Sole traders, taxi drivers and freelancers) will be entitled to a payment of £1000. Businesses who employ staff through PAYE (in addition to the owner) will be entitled to a payment of £2,000.
· Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund
The third element is a reopening of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF). On top of NDR based grants, this fund will see grants of up to £25,000 made available for severely impacted hospitality and leisure business – and their supply chains. As with previous ERF rounds, this will support businesses who have seen a reduction in their turnover of more than 60%.
More information and an application form for businesses is available on Ceredigion County Council’s website: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/business/covid-19-supporting-ceredigions-economy/business-emergency-support-fund/
The Non-Domestic Rate Grant and Emergency Business Fund will close on 14 February 2022.
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