Children ‘denied’ a Welsh medium education in Pembrokeshire as demand outstrips supply
Katy Jenkins, local democracy reporter
A Pembrokeshire councillor has raised concerns that children in the county are being “denied” a Welsh medium education as demand for places continues to outstrip supply.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s draft Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) was reviewed by a scrutiny committee this week amid calls for clearer time frames and budgets for expanding provision.
Cllr Mike Evans said that it was positive that there was such “exponential” growth in demand but he wanted it noted that it exceeds the number of spaces available and “we are now turning away children and creating a postcode lottery.”
Huw Jones, planning places and admissions officer, said there was a waiting list for nursery and reception spaces at Ysgol Caer Elen in Haverfordwest and “unfortunately we have got a significant under supply of places at the moment.”
He, and director of education Steven Richards-Downes, agreed that the long-term strategy would mean Welsh-medium education was accessible across the county and the result of a recent capital grant bid to Welsh Government for more provision was awaited.
“Is it our ambition by the end of ten years to turn that map green, I would say yes,” said Mr Richards-Downes.
Cllr Evans also asked about post-16 provision and was told Pembrokeshire College would be increasing its offer, as he added the WESP was not “radical enough” and he’s like it to go further.
Cllr Tony Baron said at the meeting of policy and pre-decision overview and scrutiny that “a plan without timings and without costings is a wish list,” with a more detailed five year plan, along with broader plans for the next five, to be included in presentations to Welsh Government.