Powys Council needs to halt school closures along the Wales-England border, a councillor has said as the plan to shut Churchstoke Primary School was formally ended.

The proposals to close Churchstoke were called to a halt by a unanimous vote at the council's cabinet meeting on Tuesday, November 23.

It came after education portfolio holder Cllr Phyl Davies recommended the school remain open after a consultation into the plans, which attracted 347 online and 163 written responses threw up "complex issues".

READ MORE: Churchstoke School set to be saved from closure after community campaign

At the meeting Montgomery councillor Stephen Hayes expressed his "satisfaction" at the cabinet's about-turn on the plans, but also highlighted the need to place a moratorium on closing schools near the border.

Cllr Hayes said: “Up to 80 children from the area travel to Shropshire schools. This is not an issue just affecting Churchstoke and its catchment.

“Primary schools all along the long border from Ysgol Bro Cynllaith (Llansilin) to Hay have been unable to impress on the authority that they exist in a distinct and competitive market.

The National Wales: Cllr Stephen HayesCllr Stephen Hayes

“We don’t understand how parents in these border areas make decisions on their children’s education, what influences them, when the key decision is made.”

He believed that understanding what Shropshire and Herefordshire schools were doing to “successfully incentivise” parents to choose an English school and why Powys was not “countering that” needed to be investigated.

Cllr Hayes said: “There are between 16 to 18 schools, some 20 per cent of our primary schools located within three miles of the English border.

“We can’t sit by while children resident in Powys are being educated in England without at least taking steps to understand the problem and make it easier for parents to opt for a Powys education.”

Cllr Hayes added that following research into the problems, “at least we will be making decisions from an informed position”.

He suggested that it would now be a “mistake” to consider the future of any primary school “within five miles of the border” until that work is done.

READ MORE: Ysgol Abersoch closure to go ahead after cabinet rejects committee’s concerns

Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris said that the council had been aware for some time of the numbers of post-16 age pupils leaving Powys to be  educated outside.

“We haven’t perhaps been as aware of the primary school children as we had as we should be,” said Cllr Harris.

Finance portfolio holder Cllr Aled Davies – who represents a ward including Ysgol Bro Cynllaith in Llansilin, one of the border schools mentioned which is also under threat of closure, said: “Our transformation programme is about the making the offer in our schools so compelling that pupils will want to stay in Powys.”

Cllr Phyl Davies said: “We do need to do more to learn why this outward migration is happening before we bring any more proposals in these areas and what effect they would have.”

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