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Flintshire councillors meet to discuss controversial school closure plans

SENIOR councillors will decide whether to push ahead with school closure plans despite protests.

Flintshire County Council’s executive committee will discuss the authority’s Schools Modernisation Strategy at a meeting this morning (Tuesday), which could see three secondary schools in the county shut down.

John Summers in Queensferry, Elfed in Buckley and Holywell High School are under threat due to dwindling pupil numbers – all three schools are just three quarters full.

Education chiefs claim they are exploring ‘a number of options’ in relation to schools and no plans for closures are yet set in stone.

But community leaders say they are expecting the executive committee to give the green light to closure proposals – and have vowed to fight against them.

Sealand councillor Christine Jones, a former pupil of John Summers High School, said: “It is ridiculous that the closure of these schools is even being considered.

“The community doesn’t want it and the pupils certainly don’t. It will have a knock-on effect to the local primary schools too.”

Current John Summers pupil David Ellis, 16, has also joined the fight.

As the Chronicle reported last week, he sent a letter to Ian Budd, the council’s director of education, to plead for his school’s future, and also set up an online petition.

The proposals, if they go ahead, would see John Summers students transferred to Connah’s Quay High School, as well as an amalgamation of Elfed High School in Buckley and Argoed High School, Mynydd Isa.

Holywell High School – the only secondary education facility in the north of the county – could also become part of a education super-site, housing a library and community facilities as well as both primary and secondary education provision.

If approved by executive members, the plans will go out for consultation during the summer and the findings will be reported back in October.

The authority will then post public notices advising people of their plans for the schools and a final decision will be made in December.

The closures would be implemented in September next year.

Mr Budd said the council had ‘no choice’ but to take action regarding schools with surplus places, in line with Welsh Audit Office guidelines which state any school with more than 25% of its spaces empty should be reviewed.

He added: “If we do not take action then action will be taken for us. I am looking forward to a full consultation with the community to gather the views of everyone involved.

“We must ensure our education provision is fit for purpose and fit to serve not just this generation, but future generations.

“Some of these schools’ buildings are not fit for the 21st century.”