A COUNCIL has been forced to restart the process to close two secondary schools after a legal challenge revealed it had not followed the correct procedure.

Powys County Council [PCC] decided earlier this year to start a consultation to close Brecon High School and Gwernyfed High School in Three Cocks and build a £50m campus in Brecon.

But following a legal challenge from a parent, the council has had to restart the process as it did not follow its own procedure in its transformation policy or the Welsh Government's Schools Organisation Code.

A campaign group had been set up to stop Gwernyfed from closing, but although welcomed, the news does not mean it has been saved.

The county council may still come to the same conclusion.

Ian Charlesworth, chair of governors at Gwernyfed High School, said: "The good news is that we, the school and the community, will have the opportunity to influence the outcome from the start or at the very least try and get some educational principles into the discussion rather than it being a purely finance driven exercise.

"So in the long term we have a shot a retaining secondary education in the Gwernyfed catchment area."

The school is now seeking confirmation that the current year 10 will be able to go to sixth form at Gwernyfed.

Under the previous proposal the sixth form would have ceased in September 2016 but they are now fairly confident this will no longer be possible.

He added: We are delighted that due process will now be followed; this is only fair and just. We are saddened that it took a legal judgement to force Powys County Council to do this."

Michael Imperato, a partner at Watkins & Gunn Solicitors, acted on behalf of parents, local community activists and politicians.

After securing legal aid and issuing High Court proceedings, Mr Imperato argued that the correct consultation process, which would have allowed the community and the school to voice their opinions, had not been followed.

Cllr Arwel Jones, cabinet member for schools at PCC, said: “We are committed to strengthening secondary school provision and to provide a service that is capable of delivering the full national curriculum but can also meet the challenges of 21st century education.

“If we are to provide the best possible education for our learners, we must change the way we organise our secondary schools.

"As we progress our secondary school organisation programme, it is essential that we comply fully with Welsh Government and local authority policy and guidelines. We will ensure that this is the case going forward.”