Language campaigners call on Carmarthenshire candidates to promise not to close village schools
Language campaigners have written to candidates for Carmarthenshire County Council asking them to give assurances that they will not close village schools.
A few months ago Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board decided not to close the village schools in Mynydd-y-Garreg and Blaenau, but to review the plan that could have led to the closure of tens of schools in the county.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Sioned Elin, who has been a parent at a village school said that the ‘Modernizing Education Plan’ had now overshadowed the educations of two generations of primary school pupils since it was first mooted in 2005.
It had been a problem for governors in attracting pupils to schools and in attracting investment, and many Welsh schools and communities have been lost, she said.
“We congratulate the Executive Board of the last Council for insisting on keeping Mynydd-y-Garreg and Blaenau schools open, but we call on candidates to declare their support for reforming the Modernizing Education Plan itself so that it recognizes the value of schools to village communities and the educational potential of inter-school co-operation. schools,” she said.
She added that despite the council’s claims that the Welsh Government would not invest in small schools, the Welsh Education Minister, Jeremy Miles, had confirmed last month that “there is no presumption against investing in small schools and local authorities can put forward relevant proposals within their strategic outline programme for investment”.
Sioned Elin said that the call to support small schools would be sent to all political parties.
“We will also call on them to declare that they still intend to put all a school in the county on a path to Welsh-medium education so that no pupil is deprived of the skill to be able to communicate and work in both languages,” she said.
Labour’s manifesto for the elections includes a pledge to fast-track £73 million of investment in new schools while seeking to protect small and rural schools.
They also said that they wanted to ensure “all pupils can be educated in the language of their choice,” which “could mean more dual stream schools”.
Plaid Cymru’s manifesto includes a commitment to invest in school buildings, increase school attendance rates and make the county’s network of nursery, primary and secondary schools more fit for the future via an overhaul of the Modernising Education Programme.
They also said that they wanted to help pupils understand their local history and culture as part of a rounded curriculum which seeks to raise educational standards.