Important consultation about Llanfyllin High School needs your response.
Our High School has always decided what courses to offer at Sixth Form level. Now Powys County Council is currently consulting about a new 16-19 Education Commissioning Board (ECB) which will take over the planning and funding of all schools at post-16 – an obvious potential threat to our Sixth Form. There will, in effect, be an ECB for the northern part of Powys – the ‘Learning Partnership’ of Llanfyllin/Llanfair/Welshpool (Trisgol) plus the Learning Partnership of Newtown/Llanidloes/Machynlleth – and another for the southern part. Our northern ‘corner’, therefore, in which we must fight for our share of sixth form funding, has doubled in size – and it also includes Coleg Powys in Newtown. The key component of the ECB is clearly the make-up of the Board. Who will run it? Who will be there to defend our interests? Can they be out-voted by those who have other interests?
It seems the new Board will have two components: a strategic Planning and Commissioning Board and an Operational Group. The current proposals are that the first will consist of the PCC Schools Portfolio holder, the Head of Schools Service from Powys LEA, two school representatives and four members from Coleg Powys. The Operations Body will have four representatives from schools, four from Coleg Powys and ‘Additional officers from PCC and Coleg Powys, as required.’ It’s obvious, therefore, that unless the make-up of these bodies is changed, that the school representatives could always be outvoted on both bodies. It’s also obvious that Coleg Powys would have a commanding voice which could lead to a quiet drift of courses from us to Newtown.
What to do
We’ve got to be cautious about this. These are draft proposals – and as with previous modernisation plans, they are likely to be modified significantly in response to feedback. Parents, students and school staff should not panic. But we should be aware of what is being proposed and we should take any opportunity to make our views known to County Hall. Consider some of these points:
- The present system where the school decides what courses to offer is working well in Llanfyllin where we attract and retain large numbers of students – including many from outside Powys. Why change it? Powys County Council should be looking to build upon the success of its best performing Sixth Forms.
- Schools and communities need to be better represented in the decision-making process. The new Commissioning Board is far too loaded in favour of Coleg Powys which could, over time, lead to a drift of courses away from Llanfyllin towards Newtown and elsewhere.
- Courses, both academic and vocational, should be planned on a quarter-county basis (Llanfyllin, Llanfair, Welshpool ie Trisgol) where the geography allows some exchange of students: Newtown is too far away.
The consultation on these new 16-19 proposals ends on Friday June 14th and anyone concerned about the future of Llanfyllin High School is strongly urged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Marianne Evans, School Modernisation Team, Powys County Council, Llandrindod Wells, Powys LD1 5LG.
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