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Father waiting years for swimming lessons in Welsh offers teachers financial reward

09 Dec 2023 5 minute read
Cymdeithas yr Iaith member Aled Powell said he has been asking Wrexham Council for swimming lessons in Welsh for his children since 2019.

A father is offering £2,000 for swimming teachers to learn Welsh after pleading with his local council to provide lessons for his daughters for over four years.

Aled Powell, a Cymdeithas yr Iaith member who lives in Pen-y-cae near Wrexham, has been asking for swimming lessons in Welsh for his two daughters since 2019 and is still waiting for Wrexham Council to provide them.

Growing tired

A recent investigation by the Welsh Language Commissioner confirmed there has been a statutory duty on Wrexham Council for a number of years to offer swimming lessons in Welsh, but this still hasn’t happened.

According to Aled: “Publicly, to parents across the county, to Welsh-medium schools having swimming sessions, and in reporting to councillors, council officers and lead members stick to a narrative that the failure is solely due to difficulties recruiting Welsh speakers”.

He has told Nation.Cymru, however, that a third statutory investigation into the matter has confirmed Wrexham Council has failed to comply with an enforcement order of a previous investigation back in 2020, to ‘up-skill more staff to hold swimming lessons in Welsh’ and to do so within two months.

With his daughters continuing to ask when they’ll have lessons in Welsh, Aled Powell has grown tired of lengthy and ineffective investigations and, as he terms, ‘having to make excuses for the failures’ of the council and the Commissioner.

Disregard

Speaking to Nation.Cymru, he said: “Despite opportunities at the time to submit comments and also to appeal, the council had accepted that enforcement order without objection. 

“But from the Commissioner’s subsequent investigation and my efforts to obtain clarity through my councillor and freedom of information requests, there’s no evidence to suggest the council ever had any intention of complying.

“Wrexham Council’s disregard for the Welsh language and those of us who use it clearly extends to also having disregard for the law, apparently safe in the knowledge the current Commissioner is similarly lacking in ambition to enforce the statutory requirements of the Welsh language standards or even her predecessor’s enforcement orders.

“It’s unacceptable in modern Wales that an education authority is restricting use of Welsh to homes and school classrooms.”

Detrimental to language skills

Aled continued: “With activities for them offered only in English, it’s no wonder talented young people lose confidence in using their Welsh, with that then being a problem for organisations, like Wrexham Council, who need staff able to work in both languages.

“I’m ready to transfer the £2,000 for a third party to hold onto and I’ve contacted my Pen-y-cae councillor to discuss the details of the offer and how exactly to implement it, but basically I’m willing to reward Wrexham swimming teachers who can comply with that enforcement order made over three years ago.

“I hope to have a positive response and for the area’s children to finally benefit from an experience hundreds have unfortunately already been denied.”

Council response

A Wrexham County Council spokesperson previously told us: “We are aware of the issue and are working with the Welsh Language Commissioner and Freedom Leisure to resolve it.

“A breakdown of some of the recruitment work that colleagues at Freedom Leisure and ourselves have been doing to fill the post can be seen below:

“Freedom Leisure activity in promoting the job post:

  • Job has been advertised continuously online (no expiry date).
  • Since May 2022 the job has been advertised on boards across all main Freedom Leisure sites (not school dual use), Waterworld, Gwyn Evans, Queensway and Chirk.  All vacancies have a Welsh and English version including the benefits to working at Freedom Leisure.

“Outreach:

  • Coleg Cambria 12.1.22 (Refreshers Fair) Spoke to students (Further Education) about vacancies. Contacts made with the Jobs Team; job adverts shared with them to go on their jobs page.
  • Rhosnesni High School 29.6.22 Welsh in the Workplace: Three colleagues met with students at a local High School to talk about how we all use Welsh every day in the workplace and the importance of this.  Also talked about specific vacancies and careers such as swimming teachers.  Students had to use their Cymraeg to fact find.
  • Tŷ Pawb Jobs Fair 22.9.22: Organised by the DWP in Wrexham.  Made some good local contacts for job advertising and recruitment in the future and spoke with approximately 50 job seekers, 16 of which left their details and will be sent suitable job vacancies in the future.  Welsh speaking Swimming Teacher Vacancies were printed, on full show and discussed with job applicants.
  • Social Media and Web: In February 2022 Wrexham County Borough Council produced a blog article which was widely shared on social media by all our centres at Freedom Leisure.
  • Menter Iaith Flintshire and Wrecsam: Contact made in January 2022 and Job Vacancy information shared with them to distribute to contacts.
  • Applicants: On 2 March 2022 an applicant came forward for the vacancy, but due to a change in circumstances the applicant withdrew their application.”

The council says the job was shared across social media on numerous occasions.

These posts link to an article on WCBC Newsblog and includes a direct link to apply for the job on the Freedom Leisure website.

“Each time it is posted WCBC tag in local and national Welsh language organisations and partners to share the vacancy as widely as possible.”


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Frank
Frank
2 months ago

It seems that the only obstacle in the way of the Welsh language flourishing is the Welsh people themselves. Isn’t it almost criminal that a person only wants his daughters to be taught through the medium of Welsh in Wales and there’s a huge problem. You couldn’t make it up!! Can you imagine someone having a problem in England to be taught through the medium of English.

Last edited 2 months ago by Frank
Paul
Paul
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Remind me again of the percentage of Welsh speakers in Wales vs the percentage of English speaker in England.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago

Wouldn’t it be cheaper for him to train to be a swimming teacher? Then he can teach other children in Welsh too, and have a good little business 🙂

Debi
Debi
2 months ago

To put simply, what is more important, making sure a child can swim or using the Welsh language? If the child understands the instructor then that is what matters. I live in a Welsh speaking village and both my children are bilingual but I would never put language before safety. I am all for ensuring that Welsh survives but this is ridiculous

Gareth
Gareth
2 months ago

Not a council problem, just that no swimming instructors who need a job and speak Welsh are applying. I’m born and bred Welsh, but I would rather the Welsh assembly spend money on saving lives in the NHS than Welsh language schemes.

Gwynfor
Gwynfor
2 months ago

Am I right in saying he would prefer his own children to drown in English than swim in Welsh?

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