Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
An education chief is claiming that online technology is providing extra opportunities for Welsh language education in Powys.
At a meeting of the Learning and Skills committee members were told that a pilot scheme has begun to “immerse” pupils in the Welsh language, using online technology.
The committee were also told that the county’s 11 Welsh medium schools, that can be a distance of 90 miles apart, could help each other as a “cluster” for online learning during the latest lockdown.
Cllr Bryn Davies (Llanwddyn – Plaid Cymru) brought up the need for the authority to invest in specialist “trochi” or immersion units where children are given intensive tuition in Welsh to prepare them for life in a Welsh medium school.
Interim Head of Education Service, Lynette Lovell, said: “One of the things we’re piloting this January is a “trochi” scheme, so that the latecomers to the Welsh language are immersed in it.
“We’re piloting it across the local authority, because we can now do it on (Microsoft) Teams.”
The “athrawon bro” (Welsh language teaching advisers) have been redeployed to provide that trochi support remotely, where the needs arise.
During lockdown, with school buildings closed and lessons taking place online, schools near to each other in Powys are supposed to work as a “cluster.”
They are expected to help each other by sharing online learning materials and best practice.
Cllr Sandra Davies (Cwm Twrch – Labour), said: “If there’s a cluster with one Welsh Medium school – how does it that work when they need resources in Welsh?”
Ms Lovell, said: “We have a brilliant opportunity here with technology.
“We can have a cluster of Welsh medium schools that can all share resources – wherever you are.
“We all know there is a lack of Welsh resources, so sharing is essential and we are setting up that facility so that they can share good practice too.”
Committee Chairman, Cllr Peter Roberts (Llandrindod South – Liberal Deomcrat), said: “That sounds like an interesting and innovative use of IT.
“I look forward to you bringing a report back to this committee as to the outcomes and benefits of it.”
He believed it could be something that Powys could lead on nationally.