Three Welsh medium schools could be created under county’s new education plan
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Three Welsh medium all age schools could be created in Powys as part of a new Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP).
At a meeting of Powys County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, January 25, head of transformation and communications Emma Palmer explained to councillors that the idea had been put forward at the last minute following a scrutiny committee meeting on Monday, January 24.
The cabinet meeting start had been delayed for half an hour to allow councillors to read the updated report with comments from the Learning and Skills scrutiny committee.
Ms Palmer said: “There was some challenge to the WESP in the scrutiny meeting yesterday particularly around named schools.
“There was a query in terms of potential pre-determination for processes currently under way
“Within the (Microsoft Teams) chat I put my observations around the challenge of lack of detail versus detail and one consideration would be to put forward three Welsh medium all through schools in the WESP as a way forward.”
To allow for flexibility in future decision making they would remain unnamed.
She added that discussions had continued after the meeting and into the night and that the wording in the WESP had been amended.
School transformation manager, Marianne Evans explained that the issue had been raised on the proposal for a Welsh Medium all through school in Builth Wells which is out to consultation – until tomorrow, Wednesday January 26.
Ms Evans said: “We do think that the WESP would be strengthened, and the issue of pre-determination would be addressed.”
Ms Evans read out the proposed amendment: “Any changes to schools that require a statutory schools reorganisation process are included in this WESP without prejudice to any decision that the cabinet may make in relation to that process.”
‘Dydd Santes Dwynwen hapus’
Portfolio holder for adult social care, Welsh language, communications and engagement, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander said: “Dydd Santes Dwynwen hapus to everybody.”
Cllr Alexander mused whether she would receive a Santes Dwynwen card, and said: “I’ve received the best present which is this WESP document in front of us today.”
“It’s a historic document and reflects the ambition of this cabinet for the Welsh language,
“I want to send a special Santes Dwynwen message to all the families that have come to live Powys in the last couple of years.
“I say welcome to Powys, welcome to Wales and welcome to Welsh culture and the language which is here for your children.”
She offered to meet anyone who has questions about the Welsh language, culture, and history for chat over a beer or cup of tea.
The document was approved unanimously by councillors.
It will now be submitted to the Welsh Government by the end of the month, and if approved will come into force in September.
One of the main aims of the WESP will be to increase the number of Welsh Speakers in Year One from 22.6 per cent in 2020/21 to 36 per cent by 2032.
This will need an increase of 163 pupils.
The WESP also has seven outcomes the council wants to achieve, they are:
- More nursery children/ three-year-olds receive their education through the medium of Welsh
- More reception class children/ five-year-olds receive their education through the medium of Welsh
- More children to continue to improve their Welsh language skills when transferring from one stage of their statutory education to another.
- More pupils to study for assessed qualifications in Welsh (as a subject) and subjects through the medium of Welsh.
- More opportunities for learners to use Welsh in different contexts
- An increase in the provision of Welsh-medium education for pupils with additional learning needs (ALN).
Increase the number of teaching staff able to teach Welsh (as a subject) and teach through the medium of Welsh.
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