The tiny school with just eight pupils but without it a village faces being wiped out

-Credit: (Image: Media Wales)
-Credit: (Image: Media Wales)


In a tiny Welsh village next to the coast you’ll find an even tinier school that has taught young children for more than 70 years. Llansteffan, located south of Carmarthen and east along the shore from other, better-known seaside spots including Tenby and Saundersfoot, is a wonderful place.

It has an ancient castle, a beach, a chip van, a tea room, pubs, places to eat, beautiful walks, and a school. It has everything you could possibly want to attract young families to this delicious corner of Carmarthenshire. But that utopia could be in jeopardy due to fears that Ysgol Llansteffan - right in the heart of the village - could close within months. You can keep up to date with the latest Carmarthenshire news by signing up to the local newsletter here.

Generations of children of primary school age have been taught in the building since it opened in the early 1950s, many of whom still live in the village. But now its future has been thrust into doubt. Whereas once it was a vibrant primary school with a much larger number of pupils, in recent times that number has dropped below 30, then 20, and now 10. Recently only nine pupils remained, then one left. And then there were eight.....

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The school has been told by education bosses at Carmarthenshire Council that it has just eight months to find more pupils or it could be forced to close down; it must increase its numbers to above 10 by January next year or pupils will have to attend another school.

Ysgol Llansetffan is part of a newly formed federation which includes Ysgol Bancyfelin (a 35-minte round trip which includes crossing the notoriously busy A40 dual carriageway) and Ysgol Llangain (10 minutes away by car). All three have the same headteacher and work closely together, but there is a real concern about what the potential closure of Ysgol Llansteffan could mean for the village and its future.

“Fairly recently there were more than 30 children at the school but a main teacher moved schools on a secondment,” said Charlotte Grice, a member of the school’s PTA (parent-teacher association) whose daughter attends Ysgol Llansteffan. “Since then the school has only been able to have supply teachers and that lack consistency and continuity has meant children have moved to other schools, added to the fact that we are quite far out from other areas in Llansteffan.

"There’s been frustration from parents but we all just want to save the school. Unfortunately, with eight children it’s just not feasible. It’s a huge shame as it’s a brilliant school, my daughter loves it there, and it’s the best school out of the three in the federation in terms of location - you couldn’t wish for a better place.” Want fewer ads? Download WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android.

The school is keen to stress that it is and wants to continue to be open for business as normal, and that it is accepting applications for new pupils that will help to save its long-term future. You can contact the school by e-mail on admin@llansteffan.ysgolccc.cymru or by calling 01267 241479. However, the council has told the PTA that there are two options on the table if they cannot increase pupil numbers by January 2025: an 18-month notice and procedure for closing down the school, or a ‘fast-track’ 28-day closure, which means Llansteffan could conceivably not have a school by next spring, and Charlotte fears that nightmare scenario could become a reality even sooner if numbers drop further.

The school has been in the same spot for more than 70 years -Credit:Media Wales
The school has been in the same spot for more than 70 years -Credit:Media Wales

“The council has said that our children won’t go without education but Llangain (the nearest school) is full at the moment so I don’t know what would happen to them," added Charlotte. "I might have to drive into Carmarthen (40-minute round trip) which would be an absolute nightmare for me and every other parent here. I work full-time so I don’t even know how that would work. There is a development for 12 houses in the pipeline in Llansteffan which might bring more families to the village but we just haven’t got the time to wait for that development.

"Our fear is that, without a school, Llansteffan might not be able to attract families to live here - so what will become of it? It will either become a retirement village or a place full of holiday homes. We as parents want to do anything and everything possible to save our village school but we need to get the word out there for support and to let people know that it’s a great school but it’s one that is desperate for pupils.”

It’s clear that Llansteffan wants to avoid the fate suffered by many villages across Wales in recent years; the closure of local hubs, be it schools, pubs or local shops does not merely impact those directly involved. Closing a school can change the landscape of a village for generations, affecting the very fabric of the community which surrounds it.

Carmarthenshire Council has been asked to comment.

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