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Local school closure plans approved

The process of merging two primary schools in Newtown which will eventually see one closed, has been approved by senior Powys County Councillors.

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By Elgan Hearn
Local Democracy Reporter

The process of merging two primary schools in Newtown which will eventually see one closed, has been approved by senior Powys County Councillors.

At a meeting of the council’s Cabinet this morning, Tuesday July 9, councillors received the objections report to the proposal for merging Treowen primary school and Ysgol Calon y Dderwen in Newtown.

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Education officers recommended closing Treowen from August 31, 2025, and
“extending” Ysgol Calon y Dderwen to include the former Treowen school site from September 1, 2025.

Effectively it would be one school operating from two sites for a time.

The second phase of the process would see a bigger school built at the Calon y Dderwen site during 2026/2027 with the pupils at Treowen to eventually go there.

This would be subject to receiving the necessary funding from the Welsh Government.

The legal objection period took place between May 9 and June 6.

During that time, the council received 38 objections and a petition signed by 436 people.

Conservative Cllr Peter Lewington who represent the neighbouring ward of Newtown West said: “It was stated that this proposal is an opportunity for pupils from a deprived area to benefit from a modern learning environment.

“We would probably all agree that the best way out of deprivation is a really good education but surely it is best if it is delivered in that area rather than ripping the heart out of the community against their wishes.”

He added that there could be more houses built on the estate which would in turn “increase the need” for more school places.

Cllr Lewington said: “There is one very important objector missing from the report.

“Can I please ask that you listen to our newly elected MP, Steve Witherden, who standing outside the gates of Treowen school stated last week that he opposes this closure.

“Before you take this proposal any further could you speak to him to see how he and his government could help keep this school open as the community has pleaded with us to do.”

“The people of Treowen deserve that at the very least.”

Education is a devolved matter for the Welsh Government.

Powys Independents group joint leader Cllr Beverley Baynham spoke on behalf of local councillor Newtown East Cllr Joy Jones who is absent on sick leave.

Cllr Baynham said: “On behalf of Cllr Joy I fully object to the closure of the school.

She added that parents are thinking about take their children out of mainstream education altogether: “which is very worrying.”

Cllr Baynham said: “This decision will damage the community and public trust in the council, who feel this has been a done deal from day one and the consultation has only been done to conform with the law of how a closure can be upheld.”

Cabinet member for a safer Powys, Liberal Democrat Cllr Richard Church wanted the Newtown residents to look at what had been successfully “achieved” in Welshpool where there had been similar concerns when primary schools were: “reduced from four to two.”

Cllr Church said, “The new schools in Welshpool are in excellent modern buildings which provide very good facilities for young people and are more cost efficient to the council.”

Head of schools transformation Marianne Evans said: “This is a phased process and is not going to happen overnight.

“A school will remain in Treowen for a number of years until a new build opens.

“That provides an opportunity to build those relationships between both schools and communities.”

Council leader, Liberal Democrat Cllr James Gibson-Watt said: “We do take these issues around the future of schools incredibly seriously and have to balance these things up.”

Cabinet then voted unanimously to push ahead with the merger.

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