THE threat of closure looms over two Ceredigion primary schools with falling pupil numbers in the Cardigan area – one of which celebrated its centenary last year.

The next step in a “lengthy process” was approved by members of a council committee with a recommendation that an option to “disband the existing soft federation and close both Beulah and Trewen Schools.”

Ceredigion County Council learning communities overview and scrutiny committee discussed the two options brought forward by a school review panel following a cabinet decision that they be investigated further.

After nearly two hours members agreed that the option to close both schools go back to cabinet, along with comments from the committee.

Other options had referred to the closure of schools in Cenarth and Llechryd but these appear to now be off the table.

Trewen School is in the ward of Cllr Wyn Thomas, a member of the committee, who said that the drop in pupil numbers was a “hard knock” for the school.

It had seen a sudden drop from 40 in 2017 to 18 this year and he said the potential restructure of schools in the area may have put parents off sending their children there.

Cllr Thomas called for options on Trewen School to remain open as pupils from Beulah School may choose to attend there, boosting numbers and reducing the cost of teaching, as “geography and logistics” would put them off attending Cenarth School.

“The most important thing is to give the best opportunities for the children. I would beg you to consider to keep the dialogue open and consider keeping Trewen School open,” he added.

Beulah’s local member Cllr Lyndon Lloyd, also chair of governors at the school, requested a written report of the review panels findings in case of “challenge.”

Beulah School also had 18 pupils on its role in January 2018.

Closing these schools would save around £155,000, a report to the committee states.

Cllr Lloyd also asked that the recommendation decision be delayed until new Welsh Government guidelines are published, adding parents had written to the education secretary Kirsty Williams for clarification.

“It’s a small school, it’s 100-years-old, it’s history is very interesting. Parents want to keep the school open, the education is good,” he added.

Cllr Alun Wyn Thomas said he would not be convinced that larger schools were preferable, “big is not beautiful.”

“It’s highly emotive I know but it’s really important for the heart of the community and you are going to break the heart of the community every time you close a school,” he added.

Barry Rees, strategic director for learning and partnerships, said the review of the county’s schools was not about “standards or quality.”

He said following a decision by cabinet in July there would be a lengthy consultation and further discussion before any final choice is made, allowing for the new polices to be in place and considered.

The consultation would include “viable and realistic alternatives for people in the area.”

No school would be closed before September next year.

An amendment to the recommendation that option two, which would see only Beulah School closed, was not approved.

Six councillors voted for the recommendation of closing the two schools be sent back to cabinet. One voted against and seven abstained.