School closure rubber-stamped amid concerns parents aren’t passing Welsh language on
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
Responsibility for the Welsh language should not fall solely on the education system, Anglesey’s schools chief has said as members rubber-stamped the closure of a 38 pupil primary.
Monday’s Executive decision by the council to shut Ysgol Talwrn will come into effect once a new extention of Llangefni’s Ysgol y Graig opens during the summer of 2023.
Set to go ahead with the Welsh Government providing 65 per cent of the £6m cost, the proposed new block at Ysgol y Graig will increase the capacity of the 2009-built school from 330 to 480, with pupils living in Talwrn to be offered transport for the 1.8 mile twice daily journey.
The issuing of the statutory notice had seen 46 objections being raised. But after it was stated that only 40 per cent of Ysgol y Talwrn pupils speak Welsh at home, compared to 72 per cent of Ysgol y Graig’s, members believed the move would boost rather than hinder the language.
It also prompted a warning from the island’s education portfolio holder, however, highlighting a recent report by Menter Iaith Mon that not enough parents on Anglesey were successfully transferring the language to their children before they start primary school.
Cllr Meirion Jones went on to say, “Responsibility for the future of the language does not fall entirely on schools.
“We’ve seen reports over the last few days urging parents to please pass Welsh on their children and I’d also like to encourage them to do so, and not only parents but also grandparents.
“Before the lockdown I used to hear parents and grandchildren, knowing full well they were Welsh speakers, greeting the little children in English at the school gates.
“Please think about the situation and take advantage of the gift of language and pass it on.”
The council report went on to highlight that only a third of Ysgol Talwrn’s pupils actually live within the catchment area, with an argument that general movement along the B5109 would actually reduce due to approximately half of Ysgol Talwrn’s pupils currenty living in Llangefni.
Rhys Howard Hughes, the head of lifelong learning, confirmed that a total of 12 options had been considered before closure was recommended.
Selling Ysgol Talwrn is set to generate around £150,000 with the report also warning that “doing nothing” would result in Ysgol y Graig being “significantly over capacity” in future.
The Ysgol Talwrn building itself, meanwhile, has been projected to face £447,500 in current and future maintenance costs.
But despite Rhun ap Iorwerth MS recently highlighting concerns over the consulatation process, with fears it had not been held “fairly” due to the ongoing pandemic and inability to hold face to face meetings, officers were confident that they had met Welsh Government guidelines.
Cllr Bob Parry was offered assurance that school transport would be provided to pupils travelling from Talwrn to Llangefni every day after he raised concerns that the road lacks any pavement and would be unsafe.
Concerns that the closure would have an adverse impact on Talwrn’s annual Eisteddfod were also raised, with officers of the opinion that relationships would be forged with Ysgol y Graig to continue fostering that local link.
The decision to close Ysgol Talwrn was approved unanimously.