CONTROVERSY over plans for a new Bala super-school means the facility will now open a year later than initially planned.

Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet will meet next week to consider whether a period of statutory consultation should begin on a proposal to reorganise the schools of the Y Berwyn catchment area.

In June 2017, the council’s cabinet decided to withdraw the original proposal after a war of words with the Church in Wales over the status of the school.

This proposal - originally approved in September 2015 - was for the closure of Ysgol y Berwyn, Ysgol Beuno Sant and Ysgol Bro Tegid on 31 August 2018 and the establishment of a Welsh-medium, Voluntary Controlled (VC, Church in Wales) 3-19 Learning Campus on the current Ysgol y Berwyn site in September 2018.

However, since the cabinet’s decision in June, council officers have undertaken a process to establish new proposals for the school that address and comply with the requirements of the Business Case that was approved by the Government in 2015.

The proposal that will be considered by the Cabinet will seek permission to carry out a statutory consultation to close Ysgol y Berwyn, Ysgol Beuno Sant and Ysgol Bro Tegid on 31 August 2019, and establish a 3-19 Learning Campus, Welsh-medium, with community status, on the current site of Ysgol y Berwyn on 1 September 2019.

The new school is now unlikely to have any relisgious status at all.

Cllr Gareth Thomas, Gwynedd Council cabinet member for Education, said: “Gwynedd Council is completely focused on securing the best education provision for the children and young people of the Y Berwyn catchment area.

“Unfortunately, the recent changes to the situation related to the proposed Campus’ governance/management arrangements have caused slippage in the work programme for establishing the campus as a legal institution.

“Although the campus will not officially open until September 2019, the construction works are progressing well on site and we anticipate that new facilities, following £10.27m investment, will be made available to local residents to take full advantage of the resources from September 2018 onwards.

“As a result, and after receiving input from headteachers, governors and local members in the catchment area, it is felt that the most practical and appropriate option in this case would be to officially open the campus in September 2019.

Meanwhile, officers from the Education Department will work closely with Ysgol Bro Tegid, Ysgol Beuno Sant and Ysgol y Berwyn and their governing bodies to establish a transition plan for the town’s primary schools to ensure regular and purposeful use by those schools during the year before the campus officially opens.”