Denbighshire: Prestatyn High under fire from parents
Parents of children attending Prestatyn High have slammed the school for the state of its buildings, educational standards, bullying and disabled facilities.
And one complainant even witnessed a disabled person “bum shuffle” up stairs on their backside, due to the absence of a lift.
Earlier this month, Cllr Paul Penlington criticised the state of the school, accusing Denbighshire County Council of not prioritising repair work.
Cllr Penlington said the school was crumbling and leaking and claimed children were ‘crammed into antiquated and inadequate buildings like unwanted sardines’.
The Prestatyn councillor also said the high school had missed out on refurbishment whilst other schools had millions of pounds of investment.
This led to Denbighshire’s cabinet member for education Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts defending the school.
Cllr Hilditch-Roberts claimed Cllr Penlington hadn’t visited Prestatyn High in four years, insisting the school had benefitted from £2m of upgrades to the building and toilets.
But Cllr Penlington says he has been inundated by worried parents who claimed the school is in a state of disrepair and feared education standards were low.
Parent Becky Spruce commented: “Many of the buildings were old and long due an upgrade when I attended (as a child).
“Over twenty years later, these buildings remain the same or are even worse. Prestatyn High School is the largest school in North Wales yet has had the least investment. The staff and pupils deserve it to be brought into the standard expected of a school in the 21st century.”
Another anonymous mother said the school wasn’t adequately supporting her daughter who had dyslexia.
“Prestatyn High School keep telling me they don’t have the funding to support her,” she said.
“So they are letting my child fall behind and letting her struggle. My other daughter is autistic, and I feel like they don’t support her enough either.”
She added: “The school is a joke, and I won’t be sending my younger two to that high school.”
Mum Katrina Davies said: “This is truly mind boggling as to why the school has not tried to get with the current trend of modern school buildings just like most of the others in our area.”
One parent said: “My son moved to Rhyl High a few years ago after many a problem with bullying and just being a lost soul, but our only option was to change to another school. I was so taken aback with the difference between Rhyl High and Prestatyn High. I want nothing more than my daughter to feel safe and to be happy in school. Something immediately and drastically needs to happen.”
Another anonymous parent added: “We moved our youngest child to Rhyl from Prestatyn High School recently as it wasn’t a safe environment.
“Kids were prowling the corridors, kicking off. Another glaring difference between Rhyl High and Prestatyn High is LGBTQ+ support and recognition. I know of two children who have been hounded out of Prestatyn High because of homophobia.”
Dad Jon Harland also criticised the school for not being green enough in terms of recycling.
Cllr Paul Penlington added: “Through work I do in the community and as a Cllr, I meet with children and parents of Prestatyn High School several times a week. Most of them have a very negative opinion of the school, not of the staff but of the general overcrowded, outdated and dilapidated condition of the buildings and classrooms.
“Almost weekly, going back years, I receive concerns from parents whose children are being regularly bullied, disciplined because of their behaviour or moving schools to escape that. That is clearly symptomatic of the stress put on pupils in an inappropriate learning environment. Children’s rights are being breached and ignored, their education is suffering and I genuinely worry about their future and future generations of our children if something radical isn’t done to transform the school now.”
A spokesperson for Denbighshire County Council admitted lift facilities were needed and said: “The council has recently reviewed accessibility arrangements at Prestatyn High School.
“The council’s cabinet recently approved a business case for expenditure on schools which includes an allocation for the installation of lifts within the school.
“The review also identified areas of work regarding ramps and toilets, and these works are being further explored.
“The council has also committed to a number of measures as part of its climate and ecological change strategy. These include commitments to standardise the recycling and waste approach across all schools, to include a provision of wide range of recycling and to work with schools to submit funding applications to install renewable energy. The council will work with all schools including Prestatyn on this work area.”
He added: “All pupils at the school get the academic support they are entitled to.”
Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Denbighshire County Council’s lead member for education, children’s services and public engagement, said: “As a council we have invested significant resources to ensure an excellent educational setting at the school. This is based on an agreed programme between the school and the local authority to ensure resources are targeted at the right areas.
“Between 2014 and this year, £2 million has been spent on maintaining and improving the school building including toilet and changing room refurbishments, lighting and heating upgrades as well as works to the roof, windows and the refurbishment of mobile classrooms.
“This also includes the current refurbishment and redesign of the science labs to the highest specification.
“The council has worked with the Welsh Government to secure £95 million of school refurbishments and new builds throughout the county under the 21st Century School Programme.
“The council’s strategic outline programme for school refurbishment submitted in 2017 to Welsh Government highlighted the need to invest in Prestatyn in future bands of funding.
“The school also takes a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, and staff deal with any instances quickly and effectively.”
He added: “The council will continue to work closely with the headteacher and staff who work tirelessly to deliver the best education and pastoral care possible.”
Words: Richard Evans, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV