I am writing in support of retaining Ysgol Llaingoch as an individual school, thus preserving its identity amongst the rapidly dwindling number of primary schools on the island.
I have three grandchildren in the school and attended the meeting which was held at the school last night and was mightily impressed by the conviction shown by the parents, grandparents, staff and governors alike. They voiced very deep felt concerns on many valid points such as safety issues, staffing, and not least amongst others, expressed doubts that the proposed amalgamation could improve much upon the already high standards of the present school, in spite of quantitative data designed to prove the contrary. These points I am sure will be put forward in writing by others. My concerns lie with the possible social repercussions arising from losing the present school.
ESTYN and the Department of Education of Anglesey County Council are necessarily concerned with budgets and guidelines etc. which are passed down from Westminster and /or Cardiff. All perfectly understandable and I think that everyone accepts the fact that there some very tough constraints being placed on local authorities. However, that said, I feel there are other issues upon which a price cannot be placed and they are to do with community.
It may be seen as a rather old fashioned notion in the 21st century but a sense of community is obviously still important to many people and I think that the level of passion shown last night supports my belief that community is still alive and well. I feel that there are two aspects to this with regard to the school; the school itself as a community in microcosm and the wider community of Llaingoch at the centre of which is the school. It is not simply a place where the children go to learn.
Holyhead seems very much to be akin to a collection of villages, each having its own school at its heart. Primary schools are the first major rung on the education ladder for children and what could be better than being placed within a manageable sized school with friends they know and where the staff know each child not just by name but their likes and dislikes, backgrounds, foibles etc. I feel quite strongly that this will be lost in the mire of big-is-beautiful Children identify very strongly with their schools and to uproot them seems rather harsh tactics in order to achieve better statistics on a piece of paper or an attractive figure on a balance sheet.
There is a bridge between the school as a community and the wider one of Llaingoch itself, at once historic and current; many of the parents also went to the school and are happy to see their children there. Some were looking forward to sending their babies there in the future when they reach school age but are worried at the prospect of the choice not being there for them when the time comes.
Yesterday was the schools Sports Day and today they held their Summer Fayre just two of the regular events on its calendar which everyone looks forward to. It brings the pupils together.It brings families and friends together. In short, it brings the community together. Other events such as Christmas plays serve to do the same thing. The role of the school in the wider community is thus an important one.
How very sad it would be for Llaingoch to lose all that on the altar of Change and especially when that change is very evidently not wanted or, questionably, needed. I would urge a rethink and work towards a workable compromise within financial constraints etc. but one which sees the school retain its unique identity on its present site.
It was mentioned, almost in passing, last night that there had been a school in Llaingoch for 200 years. Communities are living, breathing things and although subject to inevitable change, I feel that it would be a detrimental step in the evolution of Llaingoch where history matters as much as the concerns of the present, to swallow the school in an amalgamation such as that which has been proposed. One of the joys of Llaingoch is being able to hear the children playing at break times from where you live. There is an inextricable link between the school and the local community and I hope that we will not see the demise of the school and irrevocably, of that community within which it sits.
I would beg you to please consider the wider implications and not dive headlong into an ill-conceived social experiment which is not true integration, leaving as it would, St. Marys and Ysgol Morswyn comfortably untouched and out of the equation for reasons that still remain unclear. A distinct feeling of unease lingers about the cloak of mystery which surrounds that particular question and serves only to strengthen my view that in fact segregation would be the direct result; the opposite of what the proposal intends.
My misgivings about the proposed amalgamation therefore lead me to the conclusion that the best interests of the children of Ysgol Llaingoch would best be served by preserving the status quo. Please do not use them and the local community as pawns or Guinea pigs; they deserve better than that.