‘You can’t stop the English coming to Wales’, says parent behind petition against school switch to Welsh medium
A parent behind a petition against switching a school to the Welsh medium has suggested you “cannot stop” English people from coming to Wales.
Dai Holt, 53, has claimed that Powys County Council’s decision to change Machynlleth’s Ysgol Bro Hyddgen from dual stream, does not “represent the community”, and claimed it was a “draconian” policy.
This is despite a public consultation having found the majority of respondents backing the phased transition from dual-stream to Welsh-medium schooling at the bilingual school for pupils aged between four and 18.
The consultation found that just over 61 per cent were in favour, 37.5 per cent were against and 1.3 per cent ‘didn’t know’.
Holt, who has a daughter, 8, studying in the English stream, helped organise more than 1,200 signatures in opposition to the plans.
Plaid Cymru councillor Elwyn Vaughan has previously told the County Times: “This matter shouldn’t be seen as a ‘Welsh vs English’ thing, and I deplore those that try to make it such.”
Holt told the Sunday Times: “The school we cherish should represent the community”.
He added: “More English people are going to come to Wales. You cannot stop them with more draconian policies on schooling and houses.
“Schools run on numbers, not language. If you do not have bottoms on seats, you will not have a school to run. People have been verbally and even physically abused over this.”
‘Fear of the unknown’
In response to opposition to the plans, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan who represents nearby Glantwymyn and is chairman of the school governors, has previously said: “Whenever any changes are proposed it is inevitable that some are opposed to such changes, fear of the unknown is understandable.
“Bilingualism is the norm in the world – monolingualism is not – and that is what an English stream is – fluency in one language.
“Bilingualism provides the basis to learn other languages and become truly multilingual – a important asset for the future.”
“Only three pupils have started in the English stream this September – that is totally unsustainable and not fair on them.”
Language campaigners Cymdeithas yr Iaith have welcomed the move to change the school to Welsh medium.
Osian Rhys, from Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group said: “This is very encouraging news, and gives hope to so many other people and communities. Many thanks to the school governors, campaigners and politicians who have supported this very positive change.
“Welsh-medium schools are the only way of ensuring that children are able to communicate fluently in both Welsh and English. Moving schools along the language continuum is one of the main ways in which we as a society will reach one million Welsh speakers and more.
“This is why we are calling for a Welsh-medium Education for All Act that will encourage and facilitate the conversion of schools across the country into Welsh medium schools, with much easier new processes and statutory targets for all county councils.”