Opinion piece – Status of new Bala Lifelong Learning School

10/01/2017

Once again the debate has been rekindled regarding the lifelong learning campus here in Bala, or rather the status of the proposed "new school" is the topic of the day. It is great to see the building being developed and hear reassurances from Gwynedd Council and the Welsh Government that the construction is continuing as planned.

With only a few days to go before we celebrate one of the biggest holidays in the Christian calendar I must say that as governor, parent, grandparent, County Councillor and member of the community that my feelings, like many others, regarding the current situation is sad and concerning.

Sad because nowhere do we hear exciting conversation regarding the investment of over £10 million by Gwynedd Council and the Welsh Government for the development of an educational resource suitable for the twenty-first century. Sad that we hear no pride on the streets of a new community resource developed - a new library, hall / theatre and sports facilities such as a 3G pitch. Rather a cloud of uncertainty hangs over our heads again because of the dreaded "status".

As a Gwynedd County Councillor representing a Bala town ward, I, of course, represent everyone, regardless of race or religion, political beliefs and language, and I am greatly saddened that members of the Christ Church in Bala are put in such a difficult situation. It must be remembered that it is not our local people who are leading this discussion regarding the school’s status, but rather the Sanhedrin that has nothing whatsoever to do with our community. They are people from afar.

I noted at the outset that I was sad and anxious, and that concern stems from reading an English-only letter sent from a Church of Wales solicitor from Westminster, England. The letter immediately conveys doubt in my mind and many others of what the real interest and objectives of the Church is to require a Church status on our new school.

By now we are told that the Church (for some reason!!!) is distancing themselves from the comments made in the letter, but I think it’s too little too late.

No one can convey to me what advantages there are to benefit the spiritual and moral education of our children in a church status school compared to a community status school, and that shocks me! Is the Church in Wales suggesting that a Church status school offers better education to our children than a community status school? Not so, say the Estyn inspection body.

I therefore wholeheartedly appeal, via this letter, to the Church in Wales to step back gracefully. And leave us here as a Penllyn community to have a community status for our new campus, let us celebrate and revel in the exciting developments seen on the horizon. Put an end, once and for all, to the doubts and fears facing parents and even our children, for the future education of this area.

What does this uncertainty mean to the future of our sixth form?

To measure community opinion and to gather concrete evidence in relation to this matter, a petition is being prepared by a number of parents, teachers, governors and Penllyn county councillors. Sign and support the petition because at the end of the day the best resources and education for our children is what’s important and not some dreaded status. I will also be happy to receive any letter or email regarding the matter so that I can pass them on to the Council's education cabinet member.