Warning of ‘challenging’ reception if Powys school becomes Welsh medium
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Powys councillors have been warned that making a school Welsh medium without taking any step in between could be “challenging, hostile and difficult”.
Plans to introduce some Welsh medium education at a primary school near Ystradgynlais has been welcomed by Powys councillors.
Conservative group leader Aled Davies however said that the decision doesn’t go far enough and believe that Ysgol y Cribarth in Abercraf should become a Welsh medium school without taking the step in between.
He said: “I disagree with the approach to this. The education system in Wales has to do the heavy lifting if it is to reach that target of one million Welsh speaker by 2050.
“I think cabinet are taking a short-sighted approach.”
Cllr Davies believed that the option of phasing in Welsh medium education class by class starting from reception and eventually going right through the school should be the preferred option, and urged cabinet to reconsider their options.
Education portfolio holder Cllr Pete Roberts however said that the dual stream approach was being taken as this reflects the current admission process.
Cllr Roberts added that the results of the consultation process would tell the council whether there was a “wish to step beyond dual stream.”
Schools’ transformation manager Marianne Evans warned: “We have the support of the school and the local community and the last thing we want to do is to make what is a very positive development something challenging, hostile and difficult.”
She added that there were “many examples” throughout Wales where these sorts of proposals could create rifts in the community.
Cabinet agreed unanimously to go ahead with the consultation at a meeting of Powys County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday.
Schools’ transformation manager Marianne Evans said: “Ysgol y Cribarth is at the top of the Swansea valley in the Ystradgynlais area.
“We have been working closely with the school for the last three years.
“We piloted a Welsh medium class there, starting off with very small numbers in reception and then growing.”
Of the 124 children at the school – 20 are educated in Welsh.
Ms Evans said: “We’re planning to start the statutory process and consultation with a view of this being implemented formally from September next year (2023).”
Ms Evans added that Ysgol y Cribarth school governors supported the move.
Plaid Cymru leader and chairman of the Welsh medium education panel, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan said: “We had a meeting yesterday and are aware of the work that’s been going on here for the last couple of years.
“This is very much welcomed especially in light of the census results published last week which show a decline in Welsh speakers in the Swansea valley area.
“It was highlighted that there needs to be further discussions between the authority and Mudiad Meithrin to ensure there’s a seamless transition from pre-school into the school – that will no doubt happen in the coming months.”
He hoped in the longer term the school would become Welsh medium.
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