Rhyl’s two Catholic schools could be closed and replaced with a new ‘all through’ school within the next three years.
Plans have been revealed for a new £24 million school for more than 900 pupils, which could replace Ysgol Mair and Blessed Edward Jones High School in 2019.
It follows an agreement between Denbighshire County Council and the Diocese of Wrexham. Councillors will meet next Tuesday to decide whether the plans should go to a public consultation.
In 2013, plans to merge Blessed Edward Jones with St Brigid’s in Denbigh to create a multi-faith school at the two sites were scrapped. But the council’s report states the high school has had a ‘very high’ turnover of headteachers and was suffering from poor examination and leadership.
In the past two years, Blessed Edward Jones has been classified as a ‘red school’ in the Welsh Government’s ratings system – among those in need of the greatest improvement. The report also cited the quality of teaching and learning had been compromised by small classrooms and a lack of facilities.
Ysgol Mair – the smallest of Rhyl’s six primary schools – was deemed adequate following an inspection by Estyn last year. But the school has suffered financial problems for several years and many parents have decided not to send their children to other high schools locally after they finish primary education.
Other issues cited included low pupil attendance at both schools, a lack of technological courses at higher levels and poor facilities, such as poor design technology workshops and a lack of all-weather facilities for PE.
The new proposed school, for pupils from the ages of three to 16, will have a new name, uniform, headteacher, staff and board of governors. It will be voluntary aided with facilities including specialist classrooms, a sports hall, a studio and a chapel & prayer room. Children from both schools would be transferred to the new school.
The report, by Councillor Eryl Williams – the Denbighshire cabinet’s lead member for Education – states: ”The new school will provide the conditions that will enable a broader and more diverse curriculum to be developed, to better meet the needs of the school’s young people and in ways that will be viable and sustainable over the longer term.”
”The building will be purpose built with facilities that are fit for the curriculum now and in the future. Both schools will be involved in the design from the early stages and both school councils will also be consulted with.”
If councillors agree to send out the plans to the public, the six-week consultation will be held from Tuesday 14th February to Monday 27th March, with its findings being released in the summer. If the plans are given the go ahead, Ysgol Mair and Blessed Edward Jones will close at the end of August 2019 and be replaced by the new as-yet-unnamed school in time for the new term.
The Bishop of Wrexham, the Right Reverend Peter M. Brignall said: ”I am delighted for what this new and exciting proposed venture would provide for those families wanting Catholic education and for the greater community that recognises its significant value in and to our society.”
The governor boards at both schools have welcomed the project. Ysgol Mair chair of governors, Gill Greenland, said: ”We welcome this wonderful and innovative opportunity for our children offering a common and nurturing ethos for all.”
Blessed Edward Jones chair Matthew Curtis added: ”I look forward to leading our school community through this exciting time. We will also do all we can to help shape the development of this project.”