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Town mayor brands plan for school to switch to Welsh medium a ‘disgrace’

13 Jun 2021 4 minutes Read
Ysgol Bro Hyddgen, Machynlleth. Google

A town mayor has branded a plan for a school to switch to the Welsh medium “an absolute disgrace”.

Cllr Tony Jones made the comments at an extraordinary meeting of Machynlleth Town Council to discuss the proposal for Ysgol Bro Hyddgen, which is currently dual-stream.

A number of town councillors spoke out against the move, despite backing from the public.

In total 440 people completed the consultation response form, and of the respondents, just over 61 per-cent are in favour of the proposal, while 37.5 per cent are against and over 1.3 per cent didn’t know.

It is expected that from September 2022, the reception class at Machynlleth’s Bro Hyddgen will be taught in Welsh, in a move which will eventually see all classes from reception to sixth form taught in the language. The proposals will not affect any pupils currently being taught at the school.

The meeting of the town council was called after it received a number of letters from “concerned parents”.

According to the Cambrian News, all councillors, except for Cllr James Honeybill, voted to send a letter to Powys County Council, expressing their opposition.

Cllr Honeybill told the meeting, while he understood concerns, the proposal was a “result of a highly critical inspection by Estyn”.

He added that the town council should be at “the forefront” of ensuring no child gets “left behind”.

“I firmly believe bilingualism is the way forward,” he continued.

“Children with knowledge of a language makes them part of a country, of a culture, with an understanding of how it ticks at all levels.”

Cllr Richie Gaskell said: “I just feel we should listen to the local people and the feeling around town is they’re against it.”

Cllr Noella Elliot said that it was “every parent’s fundamental right to chose where their children are educated.

“Somebody pointed out that, in actual fact, in a way, they’re segregating the English from the Welsh. That’s not my view, do not quote me on that.”

‘Go-ahead’ 

On 18 May, Powys County Council Cabinet gave the go-ahead for a statutory notice to be published, which formally proposed the change.

That is due to be published after the summer half term and people will have 28 days to submit objections.

The Local Democracy Service that when that decision was made, school governor and Powys County Councillor for Glantwymyn, Elwyn Vaughan. said: “Whenever any change is proposed, it’s natural for people to be opposed, to fear the unknown, to just say no.

“What is worth noting is that 61 per cent of respondents actually supported the recommendation and even many of those that state they are opposed to the changes are in favour of bilingual education.”

Cllr Vaughan also pointed out that within 45 minutes travel each way from Machynlleth there are 10,000 jobs where Welsh language skills are advantageous.

Portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Welsh language, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander, said: “We should remember, that Machynlleth is the historic capital of Wales, this is where (Owain) Glyndŵr held his parliament.

“It is an area surrounded by Welsh speaking heartland areas.

“There are a number of urban myths about Welsh medium education, that it makes people parochial and limits their chances and this is absolutely untrue.

“There is no better way than to give young people in Wales roots and wings to let them feel embedded in the past, the culture that has created them, that will allow them to fly into a global society.

“We owe our children more than ever a sense of belonging.”

She added that there was a need to address the concerns that had been raised in the consultation and pointed out the “scientifically proven” fact that bilingual speakers find it easier to pick up a third and fourth language.

Cllr Alexander, said: “We want to make global citizens who know they’re Welsh, and the best way to provide this is with the best education possible for them which is Welsh medium education.”

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies, said that the “community has spoken.”

The decision was approved unanimously by cabinet.

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Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
5 months ago

It is a disgrace not to educate children in Welsh, the national language of their country.

CJPh
CJPh
5 months ago

Local people deciding how to educate other people’s children is one way to look at it. Local taxpayers deciding how their money is spent is another way to look at it. Branding Welsh medium education an act of segregation is an unbelievable slur, one that besmirches the plight of people who live(d) under segregationist policies AND Yr iaith gymraeg. Machynlleth, your kids will be fine – education through the medium of Welsh is just that; through the medium of Welsh. It’s still education. If you have any trepidation, look at the university attainment data for Welsh lang school leavers and… Read more »

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
5 months ago

As that councillor said, “The community has spoken”. Quite why the mayor of a Welsh-speaking town should be against a change to Welsh-medium education is beyond my understanding. The children can only benefit from it, and not just in terms of career prospects.

CJPh
CJPh
5 months ago
Reply to  Wrexhamian

Cywir. The quality of a school is not determined by the language of instruction. Its the case, however, that Welsh medium schools tend to have an easier time with teaching aspects of Welsh history, culture and (obviously) the language. Having grown up in a largely English speaking city (Swansea), not a single one of my non Welsh speaking peers knew who any of the Welsh Kings were, or that they even existed. The mabinogi was a funny word to them. Things have gotten a little better since then but the gulf is needlessly large. All aspects of our culture, heritage… Read more »

Nick Randall-Smith
Nick Randall-Smith
5 months ago

Are there enough high quality Welsh speaking teachers available for subjects such as physics, chemistry, maths etc? The international language of science is English, most universities in Europe teach post graduate science courses in English and almost all research is published in English. If the object of Welsh education is to produce truly bilingual students then perhaps subjects such as the sciences should be taught in Welsh AND English at secondary level. We don’t want to produce Welsh science students of the future who may be short of complete fluency in the complex and extended vocabulary used by scientific English… Read more »

CJPh
CJPh
5 months ago

A friend who attended the same Welsh medium secondary school I did once moaned about how tough it was to go to uni (she read geography) not knowing any of the right terminology, that it had been a monumental struggle for her (only science and maths were offered in English at a level). I quickly pointed out that, despite her perceived disadvantage, she had managed to attain a 1st… You don’t seem to hear any stories of students being hampered by Welsh medium education; the opposite seems to occur. Bilingualism sees to be a booster re academic aptitude – plenty… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by CJPh
Gareth
Gareth
5 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Cytuno, the argument that the language of tech is english is defeated by all the spanish, french, italian, farsi and arabic speakers in high research positions in our universities and tech companies. The common factor is bilingualism. My daughter came through welsh medium education in the Cynon Valley, a very deprived area and gained a first in dental technology, went on to get her doctorate and is now a dentist. The only thing holding back our children using our language is the sort of prejudice my daughter encountered in trying to secure a post A level place at all the… Read more »

Gaynor Jones
Gaynor Jones
5 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

What always annoys me are Welsh speaking parents in west Wales who are anti Welsh education. Remember Education First? Whilst in the socially deprived post industrial areas non Welsh speaking parents don’t have any qualms about their kids following a Welsh language education.. What does that say about identity and psyche?

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
5 months ago
Reply to  Gaynor Jones

Yes Gaynor I remember Education First which was the handy work of some Anti Welsh Language Incomers.You are also right in saying that some Uncle Tom’s also jumped on this bandwagon.Thankfully this organisation has been consigned to The dust bin where it belongs.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
5 months ago

I think you are worrying a little too much. It seems to me pretty much inconceivable that Welsh scientific terminology wouldn’t be taught without the English equivalent, even if only for reasons of clarity. I know many Welsh speakers who refrain from using a Welsh language interface on their computer, (and where is the Welsh language interface for Android devices?) because they are unfamiliar with the terminology. I use a Linux operating system, as fully localised as I can make it, which sometimes has me scratching my head a little until the penny drops and I realise what is being… Read more »

Bruce
Bruce
5 months ago

I think you’ll find that English is in fact taught in Welsh medium schools, so no you don’t need to worry. In fact, the evidence is that children given a bilingual education from an early age tend to have better language skills than children who are only taught in one language. They also tend to be better at learning other languages.

j humphrys
j humphrys
5 months ago

Science papers in Europe and the far east, are written in good English, so you are up the wrong alley there. I’ve lived in Finland, where they also learn Swedish.

D W
D W
5 months ago

I believe that this is a positive proposal. I’ve long thought that the Welsh-medium schools of south Wales are much more successful in imparting the Welsh language than some of their “bilingual” counterparts in north Wales where compromise i.e turning to English, is often favoured because it’s the easy option. One of the guiding principles of one successful Welsh-medium school in south Wales is as follows “To ensure that the pupil uses his/her language, especially Welsh, both orally and in writing, in a full programme of extra-curricular, social activities, as well as in their lessons and thereby to learn how… Read more »

Quornby
Quornby
5 months ago

With mayor’s like this who needs enemies??

j humphrys
j humphrys
5 months ago
Reply to  Quornby

I wonder what qualifications this councillor has? All candidates should list theirs when standing for election..

Deio Jones
Deio Jones
5 months ago

Challenging Welsh medium education is a disgrace. My 2 daughters, now 38(A-level Maths, Technology,Art) and 40(A-level French at 15,Maths, History,Drama,English*) had their education through Welsh up to A-level,*excepted. We were bilingual at home, Welsh and French, their mother being French.(Welsh speaking now as well). English was picked up by the way. They went to English universities. One attained First in Art at Manchester Met, the other MA Jesus College, Oxford then an MBA at Montpellier School of Commerce.(in french). No way did a Welsh education hold them back. After teaching in two Welsh medium schools(Morgan Llwyd and LLangynwyd) before moving… Read more »

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
5 months ago
Reply to  Deio Jones

Da iawn.

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