A MAJOR consultation is under way to get residents’ views on a proposed shake-up to secondary schools in Caerphilly County Borough Council.

The first phase of the authority’s secondary rationalisation programme, relating to Islwyn West, focuses on Blackwood, Oakdale and Pontllanfraith Comprehensive Schools.

Under the proposal, which come as part of the wider 21st Century Schools Programme across Wales, a new school will replace Oakdale and Pontllanfraith so that Islwyn West will then be served by Blackwood and the new school.

The council has secured funding of £20 million to deliver the project which will include a review of catchment areas. It says the proposal will reduce the surplus places in the area from 22.1 per cent to 16.9 per cent.

In 2012, the Welsh government urged all councils to take action to reduce the excess.

Local authorities with more than 20 per cent empty places in either primary and secondary schools, or who are projected to have more than 20 per cent by 2016, are required to have clear plans to reduce the level to below 15 per cent by January 2015.

The council had 22.5 per cent secondary surplus places in September 2013, and this is projected to rise to 24.9 per cent by September 2016. Caerphilly council had an inspection in 2012 and in its post inspection action plan, Estyn said the authority needed to “take urgent action to reduce surplus capacity in schools generally and secondary schools in particular”.

The consultation will involve drop-in sessions with those most directly affected by the proposals, where council officers will be on hand to explain the proposals in more detail and answer questions.

Staff, governing body and parent drop-in sessions are held at Pontllanfraith Comprehensive School between 3.30pm and 6.30pm on January 22, Oakdale Comprehensive School between 3.30pm and 6.30pm on January 23, and Blackwood Comprehensive School between 3.30pm and 6.30pm on January 30.