Stephen Kinnock MP calls for at-risk Afan Valley schools to be federated, not closed

Featured in today's South Wales Evening Post, Stephen calls for Pontrhydyfen, Bryn and Cwmavon schools to be federated:

ABERAVON's new MP is calling for Bryn, Pontrhydyfen and Cwmavon schools to be federated and not closed.

Stephen Kinnock, who became MP last week, has submitted a letter to Neath Port Talbot Council as part of the closure consultation.

In the letter, Mr Kinnock urged the authority to reconsider the option of the federation.

He said: "I firmly believe that a federation of all the schools is the best option as it would deliver savings yet still maintain a school in our valley village communities.

"There is deep rooted support for these schools in the local communities and strong backing to maintain a local education provision in the communities of Bryn and Pontrhydyfen."

Mr Kinnock also called on the council to consider the same model that had worked successfully for schools in the upper Afan Valley. He said: "The Upper Afan federation is a good model that could be used in the lower Afan Valley to make savings, improve educational standards and keep local schools open.

"It is also a model that would have widespread local support."

Pelenna councillor Martin Ellis has welcomed the support from Mr Kinnock, and said he hoped that his call would be listened to by the council in stopping the school closures.

Mr Ellis said Tonmawr school too must be part of any potential federation or amalgamation.

He said: "One of the most successful schools in Neath Port Talbot and with huge local support, it's closure would be felt by local families unable to have fair access to nursery and wrap around care, and by the whole community. The consultation has not been listened to by the council and we are all now objecting to their decision, with only two more weeks to make our views and concerns felt.

"The trade unions are strongly behind us and have made their views on job losses heard, and the loss of parents jobs that would follow loss of local nursery and affordable childcare in Tonmawr need to be part of the council's decision."

Last month, following debate, Neath Port Talbot Council cabinet members agreed to publish statutory notices of a proposal to close the three schools, with pupils from Bryn and Pontrhydyfen to receive education at Cwmavon from September, and pupils from Tonmawr expected to attend Crynallt Primary in Cimla.

Mr Ellis added: "It is vital that primary education with nursery and childcare, recognised by the director of education as critical to children's longer term success, remain fully available locally."

At a previous meeting on the matter, Mr Ellis has also warned that there was a danger of communities becoming unequal if the closure plans go ahead, with wraparound care provision being no longer available to parents in the Pelenna and lower Afan valleys.

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