THE future of Hakin and Hubberston’s primary schools remains undecided after a meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s (PCC) Cabinet on Monday.
In November 2013, the Cabinet resolved to allow the Director of Children and Schools to consult on a proposal to close both the schools and replace them with a single, English medium, Church in Wales Voluntary Controlled primary school.
The majority of responses to the consultation revealed an unmistakable lack of local support for the proposal. Concerns raised included the potential loss of the high level of care and “family ethos” currently provided by the two schools, the likelihood of larger class sizes and the loss of parental choice in the area.
In a statement read to the Cabinet, County Councillor for Hubberston Viv Stoddart said there was no “grass roots support” for merging the two schools and that the proposal needed to be “set in context”.
“Hakin and Hubberston are a single community,” she wrote. “ Parents are as one in supporting a long-overdue new build for Hakin Community School. This was promised when Hakin Infants and Juniors agreed to amalgamate in 2010/11 under the umbrella of the 21st Century Schools programme. The drive to amalgamate Hakin and Hubberston schools came from this authority only last year, not from the community.”
In Monday’s agenda, it was recommended the Cabinet should agree to proceed with one of three options: close both schools and establish a single primary school for the area by September 2016; retain the status quo with no new build, or provide a new build for Hakin School only.
In light of local opposition to the merger plan, the Cabinet moved to defer its decision and await further reports in order to gain a deeper understanding of the matter as a whole. No time limit was put on the preparation of the new reports.
Chief Executive Bryn Parry Jones advised that another consultation would have to take place if the Cabinet wished to explore moving from the current proposal to close the schools and build a new one, to the proposal of a new build for Hakin School alone.
In a joint response to the outcome of the meeting, Cllr Viv Stoddart and County Councillor For Hakin, Mike Stoddart, said: “We understood the chief executive to caution on Monday that the long-promised new school for Hakin was now in jeopardy The council must not renege of the promise of a new build for Hakin Community School, which has operated for three years on an unsatisfactory split site.
The council's then interim head of education pledged in a public meeting in June 2013 that "Hakin will go ahead, we have the money"- this from a senior officer of the county council, and in the presence of the Cabinet member for education, Cllr Ken Rowlands.
Mr Hopkins said a new school build would be provided for Hakin as part of the 21st Century Schools programme regardless of any inclusion of Hubberston School. This commitment was unequivocal. For the council to threaten to go back on this promise is a manipulative tactic which is unacceptable in a democracy.”