Councillors urged to back major expansion of Welsh medium education in Powys
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Powys councillors will be asked to commit to plans for creating a dozen Welsh language primary schools and three high schools over the next decade.
Plaid Cymru group leader Cllr Elwyn Vaughan will put forward a raft of proposals at the County Council’s meeting on Thursday, March 2, to boost the number of Welsh speakers in the county.
Some of the proposals were mentioned at last week’s council meeting to set the budget for next year as part of a deal to secure Plaid Cymru support for the Liberal Democrat led council’s spending plans budget.
Cllr Vaughan said: “The results of the recent census have revealed the desperate need to act immediately and comprehensively in relation to the Welsh language in Powys.
“We have heard much about environmental sustainability and the need for action, well the same is true of our Welsh communities.”
Cllr Vaughan explains that from 2011 and 2021 Powys lost over 2,600 Welsh speakers.
The number of children from three to 15 years of age who can speak Welsh fell by 1,864.
Cllr Vaughan said: “Powys is the only county during recent years, where a lower percentage had access to Welsh education than the percentage of Welsh speakers in the community.
“It’s no surprise therefore that we are seeing figures decline every decade.”
“If we want to change the situation by the next census, then we must act now with a package of actions.”
Th motion that Cllr Vaughan wants councillors to support is:
“Accept the principle that the Welsh language belongs to every part of Powys”
“Move 12 primary schools along the language continuum or create new Welsh provision/Welsh schools where that option does not exist as a matter of urgency.
“Establish three new Welsh medium high schools as soon as possible.
“Increase the immersion provision in order to facilitate bilingualism.”
The financial assessment that accompanies the proposal explains that in the WESP and Transforming Education Strategy the council already includes plans to move 12 primaries and four secondary / all-age schools along the language continuum over the next 10 years.
This includes Machynlleth’s Bro Hyddgen all through school.
Cllr Vaughan’s other proposals are:
A language awareness workshop for all councillors and staff.
Aim to increase the percentage of fluent Welsh speakers in the council’s to 16 per cent.
The Welsh language to be an integral part of the new Local Development Plan (LDP) and that commercial signs are bilingual throughout the county in the new LDP.
Support the development of a cultural tourism plan making the most of the county’s history such as Sycharth, Brynglas, Cilmeri, Canolfan Glyndwr.
Ask the Welsh Government to extend the ARFOR scheme – a linguistic economic scheme worth £11m in West Wales to Montgomeryshire to promote the Welsh language and the economy
Learn lessons and transfer knowledge of best practice of what has happened the Basque country by intertwining economic activity and language.
Support the call for a rural economic development agency.
Cllr Bryn Davies is set to second the motion.
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