9:13am Wednesday 19th March 2014
“THIS is a story all about how my school got flipped-turned upside down...”
That is the opening line of a video made by pupils at a Cwmbran high school over plans to merge two Torfaen secondary schools to tackle falling pupil numbers.
Fairwater High School pupils wantas many members of the public people as possible to attend a public meeting at their school at 6pm tonight, even if they agree with proposals to close Llantarnam and Fairwater schools, refurbishing the Fairwater site at a cost of £6 million by September 2015.
Consultation on the plans ends on March 31.
As well as a review of the Fairwater, Llantarnam and Croesyceiliog catchment areas, Torfaen council said closing Fairwater and Llantarnam Schools and creating a single secondary school should help tackle the issue of surplus places for both schools, in line with the Welsh Government target of no more than 15 per cent surplus places.
The video, which parodies the theme music to1990s TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, was made by Fairwater’s student council, with help from sixth formers who filmed and edited the video, and uses puppets to rap about how the school has changed.
A puppet with a moustache, which is meant to be a parent, refuses to send their child to Fairwater, but the child insists “they set high standards and they make it real clear, you have to work hard if you want a career”.
After the music the video cuts to chair of governors Rosemarie Seabourne who says: “The school has improved hugely over the last two years and we need it to continue to improve for the community. Fairwater is evolving into excellence and we need to keep that momentum going.”
Head teacher Helen Coulson said, as many parents agree with the plans to build a new school on the Fairwater site, this could be seen as apathy by the council.
“The students’ video is a funny jokey way of making people aware,” said Mrs Coulson, who appears as a blonde-haired puppet in the opening seconds of the video, said: “The pupils have seen the turn-around at this school and their worry is that possibly it could all get dragged back down. Their concern is for education standards, they want the status quo.
“Whatever your opinion of the plans, come and express it.”
The capacity of Fairwater High School is 1,312 but at present it only has 717 pupils, predicted to drop to 548 by September 2015 when the proposed new school would open.
For Llantarnam School, the capacity is 1,475, with 1,003 pupils currently attending. Figures are forecast to fall to 770 by 2015. Based on current projections, a new school opening in September 2015 would have 1,318 pupils and Fairwater was proposed as the most suitable site because of its more central location.
But some parents have argued the Llantarnam site would be a better option, as pupils would need to be housed in temporary classrooms at Fairwater while refurbishment is carried out between 2015 and 2017.
The meeting takes place at 6pm tonight at the school.
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