TEACHERS and school governors in Carmarthenshire should be the first to know about the possibility of their school closing or changes to language provision, a council group said.

The group has made a series of recommendations after hearing from education leaders and Welsh Government officials about the Wales-wide school organisation code, which councils must comply with when they propose opening, altering or closing schools.

Decisions about closing schools are emotive and controversial, and the education task and finish group was told by councillors and school governors that the consultation process in these cases was a concern for them.

Presenting its final report at a council scrutiny meeting, Cllr Darren Price said he felt the code seemed “clunky and adversarial”, and that he hoped the recommendations would strengthen the way the council consulted on major school proposals.

“Clearly we felt there were areas for improvement,” he said.

But Cllr Price also noted examples of good practice.

The recommendations include informal consultation with a head teacher and chair of governors about a proposal affecting their school, followed by staff and the governing body, before it was made public.

The group also recommended that public consultation events were held in affected communities, in person and online, during the informal stage.

A one-page information sheet about the proposal, it said, should be made available to parents and residents.

The group also called on the Welsh Government to streamline the school organisation code process and encourage people to express their support as well as objections.

And it said the council should share its wider education strategies, such as more Welsh language provision, with teachers, governors and councillors.

On this last point, Cllr Price said: “The evidence we had was there was a lack of understanding.”

The group also felt there were instances where a proposal may have universal support – such as extending a school’s range from 4-11 to 3-11 – but which still had to go through the formal process of inviting objections.

But Cllr Price said the intention was not to reduce the level of engagement.

The recommendations will be discussed by cabinet in due course.

Earlier this month cabinet members offered two primary schools threatened with closure a reprieve.

Officers had recommended the closure of YGG Mynyddygarreg near Kidwelly, and YGG Blaenau near Llandybie, at the end of the current school year.

But cabinet postponed the decision and opted instead to extend a Carmarthenshire-wide review of school provision. New proposals for primary education in Kidwelly and Llandybie will be published in due course.