Former head speaks out as doomed Pantycelyn is named 'best school in county'
12:50pm Tuesday 1st October 2013 in News
A FORMER headteacher of Llandovery’s Ysgol Pantycelyn has spoken of the “bitter irony” that the doomed comprehensive had emerged as the best-ranked school in Carmarthenshire in a survey conducted by a national newspaper.
Pantycelyn, which is expected to close within two years as part of Carmarthenshire’s extensive educational re-organisation programme, emerged as the county’s best- performing school in what is being described as “the most comprehensive guide ever to secondary education in Wales”.
It proved a particularly bitter-sweet revelation for retired teacher Roland Griffiths, who spent 37 years of his career at Pantycelyn – the last seven as headteacher up until his retirement in 1996.
“It’s such a bitter irony that we are about to lose a school that is – according to this study – the best one in Carmarthenshire,” Mr Griffiths, 80, now living in retirement in Cynghordy, told the Guardian.
“I know so many people in the Llandovery area just cannot see the sense in what is happening.
“I am left feeling totally disgusted and disheartened by the way the whole process has been handled.
“Over the past couple of years Ysgol Pantycelyn has been deliberately run down which has been very sad for us to see.
“As far as I and many others are concerned, the decision to close Pantycelyn was made some time ago and nothing anyone was going to say was ever going to change that.
“Basically, it’s all to do with saving money in these difficult economic times - whether it will actually save the powers-that-be significant money must be open to serious doubt.
“Pantycelyn has always been a good school through all the inspections I can remember. The GCSE and A-level results have always been very good and pupils have gone on to secure top jobs and attain top degrees at universities.
“One of the school’s greatest advantages was that everyone knew everyone. We generally had around 450 pupils when I taught there, rising to a peak of around 510.
“The county council will obviously say these numbers have fallen, but there is a rea son for that.”
According to the rankings, Llandovery gained 61 marks out of 100 to place 44th in Wales. It was awarded five stars for attainment and teaching; three stars for finances and one star for behaviour for an overall standard of four stars.
Llandeilo’s Ysgol Tre-Gib, which was ranked seventh in Carmarthenshire, received 52 marks, an overall three-star rating and was ranked 101st in the national table.
Pupils from Pantycelyn as well as Ysgol Tre-Gib will be transferred to the planned ‘superschool’ earmarked for a site at Ffairfach, but Mr Griffiths claims the costs involved have been underes - timated.
“The wastage of money is unbelievable,” he said.
“I have it on reliable authority that sixth-formers from Ysgol Pantycelyn currently have to travel up to Tre-Gib to register in the mornings and then return back to Pantycelyn for lessons – where’s the sense in that?”
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