Children and parents fighting council plans to save the smallest school in Rhondda Cynon Taf

  • The pupils say they "don't want to leave" their school

The smallest school in Rhondda Cynon Taf is fighting council plans to close it just a year after it won an award for providing the Best Breakfast Club in Wales.

54 pupils attend Rhigos Primary School and the local council says those numbers are forecast to fall even further over the next five years.

One student said: "I feel really sad because I've already moved schools once, from Penderyn because it was turning Welsh and now they're going to move me again."

Another said: "My dad, uncle, cousin and my aunty came to this school.

"Some of my friends are here and I don't want to part ways with them.

Pupils fear they won't be attending the school, next year - with parents saying their children receive an "excellent education" that they "don't want to lose."

  • Sarah Oliver says there's a real "community feeling" at the school

All the children comply with Welsh government targets to actively travel to school, according to parents like mum Sarah Oliver.

She said: "They love coming to school by walking, scooting, biking every day.

"They can all walk because they live in the village. They loved to come to the breakfast club that also won 'the best in the country' last year.

"They've got a lovely community feeling in the school."

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said they recognise Rhigos Primary School is a valuable part of the local community. Credit: ITV Wales

Rhondda Cynon Taff council says the school's "buildings are ageing" and that some have reached "the end of their design lives".

The local authority also added that a decline in pupil numbers at Rhigos Primary School "is projected to continue" and the old school building requires "significant work".

A major refurbishment is needed to address a £185,000 backlog of maintenance.

But the school argues that this survey was done four years ago and some work has been completed since.

  • ITV Wales spoke to Mairwen Evans, who is the Chair of Governors at Rhigos Primary School

Mairwen Evans is the Chair of Governors at Rhigos Primary School she claims the council hasn't kept "the school in good condition".

She said: "If you are the landlord of a property, you'd be expected to keep it in good maintenance. They are the landlords of this school, so why haven't they kept it in good condition?

"Class one does need to be renewed but they've known that for over 50 years. That building was put up for a lifespan of 20 years and I actually went to school there."

The council intends to transfer the pupils to Hirwaun Primary School which is three miles away. But the pupils don't want to leave Rhigos.

A spokesperson for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said: "We recognise that Rhigos Primary School is a valuable part of the local community and has served the children and young people of the area for many years.

"However, as a local education authority, we have a statutory responsibility to review surplus places and we are obligated to look at and undertake consultation on viable options for the future.

Pupils fear they won't be attending the school, next year. Credit: ITV Wales

 "It is our duty to ensure that all our learners in Rhondda Cynon Taf have access to the best facilities possible and the school in Hirwaun is a brand new, modern school offering excellent facilities. 

"A consultation is currently ongoing in relation to the school under arrangements outlined in School Organisation Code.

"The decision to carry out this initial consultation is based on declining numbers, which is 51 statutory-aged pupils, six of whom live outside of the catchment area.

"The school building has also reached the end of its design life and is in need of substantial investment.

"Following the conclusion of the consultation process, the council’s cabinet will consider all matters raised by the community, school, parents/carers and learners in respect of these proposals."

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