Voice Cymru Official Response
The School Organisation Code is made under Sections 38 and 39 of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013. It imposes requirements on relevant bodies and includes statutory guidance which they must take account of. This consultation seeks views on:
- revisions to the code reflecting feedback
- proposals to strengthen the presumption against closure of rural schools in the code.
Summary of Voice Cymru's response (additional comments):
It is a glaring oversight that the number of possible redundancies at a school, whether designated as rural or not, is not included within the factors to be taken into account when considering a school organisation in section 1 of the Code. At a time when record numbers of teachers are leaving the profession and fewer NQTs are entering the profession, it is critical that teachers and support staff are valued and are only subject to redundancy in the most extreme of circumstances.Even in circumstances when the Code is followed to the letter by local authorities, this does not preclude local authorities from cost-cutting and making redundancies in circumstances in which other options may have been available.
School Organisation Code notwithstanding, smaller rural schools will remain at risk of closure if local authorities in rural areas continue to suffer disproportionate funding cuts higher than urban authorities and there is simply insufficient money in the system. Given the advantages of keeping rural schools open and the fact that school budgets are the most likely reason for local authorities wanting to close such schools, it is paramount that the Welsh Government continues to provide additional funding to such schools, particularly when EU Rural Communities funding is no longer available.