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Five schools in county to become fully Welsh medium at Foundation Phase

05 Jun 2024 3 minute read
A child playing in a playground. Picture by the Welsh Government.

Bruce Sinclair Local Democracy Reporter

Proposals to amend the language medium to Welsh for foundation learning at five schools in one county have been backed by senior councillors despite some describing it as “polically motivated”.

Members of Ceredigion County council’s Cabinet, at their June 3 meeting, were recommended to back changes to Comins Coch Primary School, St Padarn’s Catholic Primary School, Llwyn yr Eos Primary School, Plascrug Primary School, and New Quay Primary School.

In addition to amending the language medium of the foundation learning to Welsh for all five, Comins Coch and St Padarn’s Catholic Primary School included admitting three-year-old pupils on a part-time basis.

Last May, Cabinet agreed that statutory consultations should take place on the proposals, which took place last autumn, followed by Cabinet publishing a statutory notice on March 1, providing a 28-day notice period for any objections to be submitted.

Concerns

Three objections to the changes at Comins Coch were received, with concerns including claims the consultation was flawed, the proposals would decrease the diversity of the local population, especially those working at the university, by removing the English language aspect, and creating difficulties for English-only-speaking parents.

Those concerns were also raised for the other Aberystwyth-based schools: St Padarn’s, which had a total of four objections, Llwyn yr Eos, and Plascrug.

Plascrug had more concerns raised than the other schools, with 23 objections received, one respondent describing it as “politically motivated” and a “fait accompli,” another saying it would have “a negative effect on refugees,” while another saying “full immersion in Welsh” would be an additional barrier to those with additional learning needs.

Concerns at Plascrug also referenced a 143-strong change.org petition, entitled Reject Welsh medium teaching in the Foundation Phase at Ysgol Plascrug school.

Petition

That petition said: “Ceredigion County Council has decided to implement Welsh medium teaching in the Foundation Phase of Ysgol Plascrug School as part of the Local Authority’s implementation of Welsh in Education Strategic Plan.

“I and other parents are concerned that this is not the best way to teach very young children. Children learn better through their mother tongue, and non-Welsh speaking families will not be able to support their children with developing reading and writing skills at home to compliment the teaching in school.

“The majority of schools in Ceredigion are Welsh medium so there are plenty of options available for Welsh speaking families to have their children educated through the medium of Welsh. Plascrug is one of the few schools that offer bilingual teaching.

“We fully support children being taught Welsh and support bilingual teaching and want teaching in the Foundation Phase to be in Welsh and English.

“Therefore, we the undersigned wish to object to the Local Authority’s plan to change teaching to Welsh medium in the Foundation Phase at Plascrug School by September 2024. We wish the school to retain its present policy of bilingual teaching across all ages and year groups.”

New Quay saw a different issue, with no formal objections but concerns about the potential impact on the existing Welsh-speaking nursery being raised.

Cabinet members agreed to amend the language medium to Welsh at New Quay, Llwyn yr Eos, Plascrug, Comins Coch, and St Padarn’s, with the latter two also admitting three-year-olds on a part-time basis.


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Erisian
Erisian
12 days ago

It’s not political – it’s existential.
Kids learn languages like sponges soak up water.
If the parents are mono-glots – that’s their loss, no need to pass it on to their children.

Aimee
Aimee
12 days ago
Reply to  Erisian

So, you would have no objection to the schools remaining bi-lingual then?

Or is it only acceptable if families remain mono-glots in one language in particular?

A G Rhys
A G Rhys
11 days ago
Reply to  Aimee

Going to a Welsh medium school universally produces young people bilingual in Welsh and English. English medium schools ensure monoglotism in English for the vast majority.

Aimee
Aimee
11 days ago
Reply to  A G Rhys

Actually, if the parents only speak English it results in a young person whose skills in either language are average with teaching in one language and home life in another. The flip side is with a home whose dominant language is Welsh it results in superb Welsh skills yet lacking English language skills which colleges are having to provide massive assistance to fix. Maybe try going to a college and asking what their experience is with learners who fit either of these profiles is. Wales is sadly not a country whose predominant language is Welsh and trying to force it… Read more »

A G Rhys
A G Rhys
7 days ago
Reply to  Aimee

Where are the statistics to suggest that, adjusted for socioeconomic background, children from Welsh-speaking homes and Welsh-medium education perform worse in our predominantly English-medium economy and society? Without such statistics, anecdotes mean little. Obviously some will struggle with the education system, whatever its linguistic character, but what’s actually harming young people is forcing the vast majority through an education system that leaves them with only one language: English.

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