TWO secondary schools will merge next year under plans to reduce the number of surplus spaces in Torfaen.

Torfaen council Cabinet agreed yesterday to shut Fairwater High School and Llantarnam School in September 2015 and open a revamped school on the Fairwater site.

The new school could be called Cwmbran High School but this name remains provisional at this time.

Hundreds of parents condemned the merger plans, arguing Llantarnam would have been a better site and pupils may end up being taught in temporary classrooms for several years.

Llantarnam School governor Sue Tamplin said: “Parents, governors and children are bitterly disappointed but we are prepared to work together to try to get the best for the children in the new school.

“We feel Torfaen council could have had more vision.”

Llantarnam parent Teri McDonald, 44, added: “I am very disappointed that they have chosen the Fairwater site. I feel Llantarnam is a better site but I feel we need to move on now.”

Independent Cllr for Llantarnam ward Maria Graham said the Cabinet decision “put money before education outcomes”.

The Labour led council said the merger would help tackle surplus places at both schools and is part of the 21st Century Schools Programme.

Ward councillor David Daniels said: “I was opposed to the closure of Llantarnam but understand the financial and teaching pressures that low pupil numbers create.

“Now the decision has been made, I will endeavour to work with fellow school governors and council officers to ensure we grasp the opportunity and provide the best possible facilities for all pupils starting in the new school.”

A new primary school is to be built at Llantarnam School with the remainder of the site to be sold off.

The merger is expected to save Torfaen council nearly £700,000 a year.

Llantarnam Leisure Centre will also close from September 2015, as Torfaen Leisure Trust will not take on the management of the site and no other groups have come forward to run it.

The consultation period ran from February 17 to March 31, and councillors agreed to publish statutory closure notices in May.

Following this, the council received 20 statutory objections, including from the governing body of Llantarnam School.

The council proposes to close both of the schools, saying they are “unsustainable” if they remain open.

In April, a petition of more than 4,000 signatures was handed to Torfaen council calling for Llantarnam school to be saved.

A crowd of around 750 people attended the meeting at Llantarnam School in March to discuss the proposals, while more than 300 people gathered at Fairwater High School.

But the authority maintained that Fairwater is the best location for the new school due to its location and that demountable classrooms may not be necessary.