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Residents oppose plans to give English speaking school in Pontypridd a Welsh name

30 Mar 2023 5 minute read
Hawthorn High School. Picture From Google

Anthony Lewis – Local Democracy Reporter

Residents in Pontypridd have opposed plans to give an English-speaking school a Welsh name because “many people don’t come back to Wales after completing university and get jobs elsewhere instead”.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council began planning for two brand new super schools and a new Welsh medium school in Pontypridd last year.

One of the schools would welcome current Hawthorn High School, Hawthorn Primary and Heol y Celyn Primary pupils from the English medium stream in 2024.

But there have been calls from residents to keep the name Hawthorn after concerns were raised regarding proposed name options.

The potential names for the new school at Hawthorn are:

  • Ysgol Afon Wen/White River School
  • Ysgol Glan Dwr/Waterside School
  • Ysgol Cae Celyn/Hollyfield School
  • Ysgol Coed Ilan/Ilan Woods School

Work on the branding including signs and logos, school uniform choices and school colours depends on the school names being approved.

A decision was due to be made by cabinet on Tuesday, February 28 but the report was deferred and another consultation will now take place ending on April 4.

Each headteacher carried out consultations on the new name choices with the pupils and staff of the schools that will close to create the new schools.

For the new Hawthorn school, ‘Ysgol Afon Wen’ received the highest number of votes (35%) in the initial consultation.

But some residents in Hawthorn are against the new school’s name being Welsh.

“tick box”

Local resident Christine Thompson attended Hawthorn as a child as did her mother and now her own children.

She said she can’t understand how, if the children were involved in bringing the names forward, they decided on four Welsh names for English medium schools.

She described it as a “tick box exercise” in terms of meeting the Welsh Government’s targets for the number of Welsh speakers and said it could be “undermining” the English language which is “more beneficial to children in the wider world.”

She said: “The emphasis should be on education rather than rebranding.”

She went on to say that the Welsh Government are being “too insular” and “not thinking about the wider impact.”

She said: “If you want a house, a car and holidays, you need to be earning good money. You need a career, transferable skills, so that employers want you and will pay the salary you need. I doubt you’re going to get it in Wales.”

She claimed that many people don’t come back to Wales once they’ve completed university and get jobs elsewhere instead.

Referring to the proposed name ‘Afon Wen’ (White River) she said there’s “no white water in the river and no rapids”.

She said: “It has always been Hawthorn because there have been Hawthorn trees. Why are they so adamant about ditching it? Why are we getting a new logo?”

She also complained about the funding of the rebranding coming out of the school’s budget and said “shouldn’t that be going on education?”

Community

Hawthorn resident Denise Morgan, who went to the school, said she can understand trying to bring in the Welsh language but not the name change.

She said: “Hawthorn school has been part of the community for many many years.”

She added that it’s easy to find it locally and said the name ‘Afon Wen’ “means nothing at all to the school for me and many other people”.

Ms Morgan said she understands that they are “trying to establish the Welsh language” but said that most people in the area are English speaking.

She said: “Why do they want to take the name away from our locality when we are building links? It would be a shame to see the name gone. It’s got historical links.”

A spokesman for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said: “A shortlist of potential names for each of the six schools directly involved in the £75.6m investment across Greater Pontypridd have been put forward by the staff and pupils of the affected schools.

“The pupils have played an important role in determining a suitable school name and have been able to have their say prior to a wider public consultation.

“While it is not a statutory requirement to engage in a public consultation, the temporary governing bodies of the three new schools agreed to this element in the process – ensuring that the process has been as open and transparent as possible.

“The public consultation has also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to put forward other names for consideration, beyond the names suggested by learners and school staff.

“The wider consultation has ensured that the process has gone further than any previous Council consultation for naming a new school, which in itself is not a statutory requirement.

“This has allowed headteachers, staff, pupils and the community to have their say, before the consultation outcomes are considered by the Temporary Governing Body of each school, and approval is sought by the Council’s Cabinet.”

The closing date for the consultations on the school names is Tuesday, April 4.


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WilliamsG
WilliamsG
10 months ago

I’m all for supporting the Welsh language BUT….

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
10 months ago
Reply to  WilliamsG

Notice how those anti-Welsh language parents like Christine Roberts always use derogatory rhetoric when referring Welsh such as learning the language was insular, ridiculing possible name suggestions, no doubt the same mindset voted for Brexit, which is a tad ironic, while omitting the fact that the most successful highly educated countries in Europe are multilingual and teach their mother tongue & history first. So it’s only bilingual Wales not monoglot England that’s insular? Go figure. 🥴

Sorgina
Sorgina
10 months ago

I suppose the council thought a direct translation of Hawthorn into Draenen Wen would be even more scary 😀

Geoffrey Harris
Geoffrey Harris
10 months ago

The anti Welsh always shout the loudest, don’t be intimidated.

Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas
10 months ago

The reason Welsh survives as a community language is because that isn’t actually true. It has long had very vocal and vigorous campaigners fighting it’s corner. The business of the use of the name of Yr Wyddfa being a good example, I heard very few voices in opposition.

Lazar Ionescu
Lazar Ionescu
10 months ago

Deffrwch bobl Cymry! Rydych chi wedi cael eich coloneiddio. Siarawch eich iaith yn falch. Peidiwch â chydweithio efo’r coloneiddwyr. Cymru rydd.

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
10 months ago

“Some residents” are not all residents. Just because SOME people move away that doesn’t mean ALL people move away. Does these small minority even live near the school? Probably not! Hawthorn is just a modern name that replaced a more ancient Welsh one just like most English placenames in Wales. These residents sound narrow minded who think the language is a barrier to progress and that all Welsh speakers are poor. These people need to be educated about the advantages of being able to speak our language in the 21st century instead of remaining in their 19th century Blue Books… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
10 months ago

How on earth do these parents function in a place called Pontypridd seeing it’s a Welsh place name? They need to go back to school to reeducate themselves about Welsh history and what it is to be a hypocrite. #WelshNot

Jason Bowen
Jason Bowen
10 months ago

What a deeply colonised part of the world. Almost as tragic as the Native Americans, Cornish or the Bretons

Aled
Aled
10 months ago

What a cause to fight for! Honour the pair and name it Ysgol Saesneg Christine a Denise.

Riki
Riki
10 months ago

Then surely they must be in the wrong nation! Didn’t they have Sat Nav when they were born? I’m sure England have room for an extra few Hundred people. It’s fine if the older ones don’t speak Cymraeg, but it’s unacceptable to stand in the way of Saving the language

Paul
Paul
10 months ago

This Christine Thompson sounds like a typical valleys woman from the 60s when I was growing up in Wales.
They used to say “ total waste of time learning Welsh “. I had hoped that had died with the people who used to preach that. Sadly it looks like it’s still a current mode of thinking.
What has not living in Wales after finishing your education to do with a schools name ???
Will someone please explain ?

Cath
Cath
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul

But that’s exactly the reason my father didn’t learn Welsh. His parents told him there was no benefit to learning the language even though they themselves were Welsh speakers! They were quite happy for their kids to learn French because Welsh wasn’t generally considered a modern language even in the 1940s and 1950s. That was then. I’ve been learning Welsh for years. Some of the next generation in our family went to Welsh school but not all. You can’t get past the fact that there isn’t a continuity of Welsh speaking in the majority of families in Wales, today. That… Read more »

Linda R
Linda R
10 months ago
Reply to  Cath

My father said exactly the same don’t we learn from our fathers.
A question on Mastermind last week, Where is the Watkin Pass. Answer Snowdonia, Eryri or Y Wyddfa will never catch on.

Frank
Frank
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul

I’m still trying to work that out too.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
10 months ago

WELSH people oppose WELSH name. This must be some parallel universe. What next, change Pontypridd to The Soil Bridge? No one will be from Ponty anymore, they’ll be from Soily.

Riki
Riki
10 months ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

There is no level some in Wales will stoop to in order to appease the English…or what they believe the English want.

Cawr
Cawr
10 months ago

I’ll transport them over the border to England myself. Happily.

Neilyn
Neilyn
10 months ago

Multiple planks of the short variety.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
10 months ago

…..because “many people don’t come back to Wales after completing university and get jobs elsewhere instead”.

What a lame argument!

CJPh
CJPh
10 months ago

“Welsh speakers don’t get opportunities to work elsewhere because of a lack of…what’s their average yearly wage? Well, educational attainment is a real concern because… How many go on to get degrees from top unis? Well, our history in the area is… What was the place called before? Shut up Taffs, you’re all obviously just a bunch of insular metropolitan elitist troglodytes, and any other contradictory nonsense I can use to wrap my own insecurities around”. – every low-level government employee in Wales since the 1860s

Eifion
10 months ago

Dyna coloneiddio ichi ond lleiafrif gobeithio ydi Christine Thomsoniaid Cymru fach.

Cawr
Cawr
10 months ago

I’d love it if you got in your bath and then a toaster got in as well

Dic Sion Dafydd
Dic Sion Dafydd
10 months ago

*made / and

defaid
defaid
10 months ago

There is no linguistic apartheid.

Unless you’re referring to a parent’s refusal to allow their child to become fluent in two languages.

All Welsh and Welsh-medium education in Wales is bilingual.

BOGOF as it were.

Mawkernewek
10 months ago

Surely if they object to having an English-medium school with a Welsh name, there is a simple solution to that problem, to make it a Welsh-medium school. Surely they wouldn’t object to that?

Kevin Blackmore
Kevin Blackmore
10 months ago

I went to Uni 3 times for various degrees. I stayed in Wales. Mind, I went to Welsh Universities. Im doing well job wise here in Wales. I enjoy travelling internationally too. So..doing nicely and not insular and living in Wales.

notimejeff
notimejeff
10 months ago

You have to wonder what goes on in these Valleys when they come out with such blatant anti-Welsh bigotry.

Karl
Karl
10 months ago

I wouldn’t change the name, but that’s because it’s name is the area of ponty it resides in. The costs to parents for more new uniform is also wrong. Now it had relocated, definitely give it a name in Welsh. If the Welsh government is ticking boxes, start with lack of Welsh language on their trains, arriva had announcements in Welsh before tfw ruined it all.

Yossarian Dunbar
Yossarian Dunbar
10 months ago

It makes sense to have school names in the language that the vast majority of the population speaks and understands. Same goes for hospitals, libraries, and other public amenities and services. Can’t really see the argument against this really.

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