What’s holding back the revival of the Welsh language in Bridgend?

A daffodil growing near Pen-y-fai church, Bridgend. Picture by Cauthon (CC BY-SA 2.0).

*English follows below*

Luke Fletcher, Cynghorydd Cyngor Tref Pencoed

Dywedir yn aml fod Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr yn ardal Seisnig iawn, ac mae’n hawdd gweld pam. Wedi’r cyfan, mae cyfran y dysgwyr ym Mhen-y-bont ar Ogwr sy’n derbyn eu haddysg drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg gyda’r isaf yng Nghymru

Mae pobl yn aml yn anghofio bod gan yr iaith hanes balch yn y sir. Fel tref farchnad, y Gymraeg oedd prif iaith Maesteg am fwyafrif ei bodolaeth, hyd nes troad yr ugeinfed ganrif.

Mae tystiolaeth bellach o’r hanes hwn i’w gweld yn y trefi sydd wedi’u gwasgaru o amgylch y sir. Ym Mhencoed, byddwn i’n meddwl bod enwau Cymraeg gan y mwyafrif sylweddol o’r strydoedd gafodd eu hadeiladu y ganrif ddiwethaf.

Pant Glas yw enw’r stryd lle’m magwyd i, er enghraifft.

Profiad

Cefais fy magu ym Mhencoed a’m geni i deulu nad oedd yn siarad Cymraeg. Mae gan Pencoed boblogaeth o tua 10,000 i 11,000 o bobl.

Er mwyn derbyn addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg, teithiais i’r ysgol gynradd yn ardal Bracla, ac yna i Lanhari (sydd y tu hwnt i ffiniau’r sir) i’r ysgol gyfun yno. Ond yn achos fy mrawd, roedd yn rhaid iddo deithio yr holl ffordd i Langynwyd i fynychu ysgol uwchradd cyfrwng Cymraeg, a oedd yn golygu siwrne 45 munud o hyd bob ffordd.

I lawer o rieni, byddai’r daith honno’n anodd os nad yn amhosibl. P’run bynnag, mae’n annerbyniol gofyn i rieni anfon eu plant mor bell i gael eu haddysg drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg.

Yn achos Pencoed, mae dwy ysgol gynradd cyfrwng Saesneg ac un ysgol uwchradd cyfrwng Saesneg yn y dref.

O ran y sefyllfa ar draws y sir, dim ond pedair ysgol gynradd Gymraeg sydd ym Mhen-y-Bont ar Ogwr, sef Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Ogwr, Ysgol y Ferch o’r Sger, Ysgol Gynradd Cwm Garw ac Ysgol Gynradd Cynwyd Sant. Yn waeth fyth, dim ond un ysgol uwchradd Gymraeg sydd gennym – Ysgol Gyfun Llangynwyd. Mae’r ysgolion hyn yn gwasanaethu poblogaeth o tua 145,000 o bobl.

Mae’r galw yno. Y broblem i rieni’r sir yw penderfynu pa mor bell maen nhw’n fodlon i’w plentyn deithio er mwyn cael addysg Gymraeg. Bydd rhai rhieni yn dewis addysg cyfrwng Saesneg i’w plentyn gan fod yr ysgol honno’n agosach.

Cynlluniau

O ran canran y dysgwyr sy’n cael eu haddysgu drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, mae’n ffaith hysbys fod siroedd y de ymhell ar ei hôl hi o’u cymharu â siroedd y gogledd-ddwyrain neu’r rheini yng nghadarnleoedd y Gymraeg. Fodd bynnag, hyd yn oed o’i chymharu â’r siroedd eraill o’i chwmpas (lle mae canran y dysgwyr cyfrwng Cymraeg yn ddigon isel), mae’r sefyllfa ym Mhen-y-Bont ar Ogwr yn ddybryd. Dengys ffigurau newydd a ddyfynnir gan Cymraeg Pen-y-bont, grŵp ymgyrchu newydd, fod llai na 19% o ddysgwyr CA3 yn Rhondda Cynon Taf wedi’u hasesu drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg yn 2018. Mae’r ffigur hwn yn ymddangos yn ddigon isel, ond nid yw cynddrwg â’r ganran ym Mhen-y-Bont ar Ogwr, sef llai na 7%

Ers 2012, mae pob awdurdod lleol wedi gorfod cyflwyno Cynllun Strategol Cymraeg mewn Addysg (CSCA), sy’n amlinellu sut bydd yn mynd ati i wella a hyrwyddo addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg yn y sir. Mae’n ofynnol o dan adran 84 Deddf Safonau a Threfniadaeth Ysgolion (Cymru) 2013 i awdurdodau lleol lunio CSCA sy’n para tair blynedd, a’i gyflwyno i Lywodraeth Cymru yn unol ag adran 85 y Ddeddf.

Teg dweud bod Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr (CBSP) wedi methu â dangos unrhyw uchelgais o gwbl wrth lunio pob CSCA yn ystod y blynyddoedd diwethaf. Er enghraifft, roedd y CSCA a gyflwynwyd ar gyfer 2017–2020 yn cynnig y byddai’r awdurdod lleol yn cynyddu nifer y dysgwyr Blwyddyn 1 mewn addysg gynradd cyfrwng Cymraeg o 141 o ddysgwyr i 158 dros 3 blynedd. Cynnydd o 17 o ddysgwyr i gyd, neu mewn geiriau eraill, hanner dosbarth. O ganlyniad, cafodd y CSCA hwn ei wrthod a’i anfon yn ôl at y cyngor gan nad oedd yn ddigon uchelgeisiol.

Yn ddiweddar, cynhaliwyd ymgynghoriad gan Lywodraeth Cymru a oedd yn cyflwyno newidiadau arfaethedig i’r broses o lunio a chyflwyno CSCA. Yn ôl y newidiadau hyn, bydd disgwyl i bob awdurdod lleol lunio CSCA newydd a fydd yn rhychwantu cyfnod o 10 mlynedd, gyda’r cyntaf i’w gyflwyno ar gyfer 2021–2030. Yn y canllawiau sy’n amlinellu’r newidiadau, mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi awgrymu targed ar gyfer pob awdurdod lleol o ran cynyddu canran y dysgwyr mewn addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg, yn unol â strategaeth Cymraeg 2050. Cyfrifoldeb awdurdodau lleol unigol fydd ystyried y targedau hyn, a mynd ati i lunio CSCA yn seiliedig ar awgrymiadau a chanllawiau Llywodraeth Cymru.

Beth am gymharu targed Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr â tharged sir gyfagos, Rhondda Cynon Taf? Targed Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr yw cynyddu’r ganran o ddysgwyr ym Mlwyddyn 1 mewn addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg i 15%–19% erbyn 2030 (y ganran yn 2017/2018 oedd 8.7%). Yn y cyfamser, targed Rhondda Cynon Taf yw cyrraedd canran o 27%–30%. Dros y ffin i’r gorllewin o Ben-y-Bont ar Ogwr mae Castell Nedd Port Talbot – sir a oedd, yn 2017/2018, yn addysgu 17.3% o’i dysgwyr Blwyddyn 1 drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Yn debyg i Rhondda Cynon Taf, targed Castell Nedd Port Talbot yw cynyddu’r ganran hon i 27%–30%.

Er nad yw Rhondda Cynon Taf na Chastell Nedd Port Talbot ar flaen y gad o bell ffordd o ran hyrwyddo addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg, mae’r ddwy sir ymhell ar y blaen i Ben-y-bont ar Ogwr. O gydnabod bod y tair sir yn wynebu yr un math o heriau o ran demograffeg a phroblemau economaidd-gymdeithasol, mae’r gwahaniaeth rhyngddynt yn drawiadol.

Er y byddai rhai’n dadlau nad yw targedau Llywodraeth Cymru yn ddigon uchelgeisiol, mae’n amlwg y bydd cyflawni’r targed yn dipyn o her i Ben-y-bont ar Ogwr a dweud y lleiaf. Ond mae’n fwy byth o her o ystyried y ffaith nad yw’n ymddangos bod Cabinet Llafur CBSP yn cymryd eu cyfrifoldeb o ran twf addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg o ddifrif. A oes diffyg uchelgais ar ran y cyngor Llafur sydd wrth y llyw? A yw’r cyngor hwnnw wedi arddangos unrhyw ewyllys dda neu weledigaeth wrth lunio CSCA ar gyfer y sir dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf?

Nid yw targed Llywodraeth Cymru yn ddigon uchelgeisiol o bell ffordd, yn fy marn i, ac mae’r ffigur isel hwn yn adlewyrchu’r ffaith nad yw cyngor Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr wedi dangos unrhyw ewyllys wleidyddol na brys o ran hyrwyddo addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg yn y sir ar hyd y blynyddoedd. Does dim rheidrwydd statudol ar awdurdodau lleol i gydymffurfio â tharged y Llywodraeth, chwaith. Mewn gwirionedd, gallai cyngor Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr fethu â chyrraedd y nod, a pheidio â derbyn unrhyw gerydd na chosb arwyddocaol yn sgil hynny. Os ydym am sicrhau bod Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr yn cyfrannu at strategaeth Cymraeg 2050 mewn ffordd ystyrlon, mae’n rhaid i ni anelu’n uwch na hyn.

Brys

Er mwyn gweld unrhyw gynnydd o werth yn nifer y dysgwyr sy’n cael addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg yn y sir, bydd angen i’r cyngor sir sefydlu mwy nag un ysgol Gymraeg newydd. Fodd bynnag, mae CBSP fel pe bai’n amheus o’r syniad hwn. Un ddadl a ddefnyddir yn aml i gyfiawnhau penderfyniad i beidio ag agor ysgolion cyfrwng Cymraeg newydd yw’r ffaith bod lleoedd ar gael mewn ysgolion sydd eisoes ar agor, ac o ganlyniad, nad oes galw am gynyddu’r ddarpariaeth. Er mwyn gwneud unrhyw gynnydd o gwbl, rhaid cefnu ar y ddadl hon ac agwedd o’r fath.

Er bod y Cyngor bellach wedi cytuno i bolisi o beidio ag anfon disgyblion i ysgolion y tu allan i’r sir i gael eu haddysg erbyn 2020-2021, mae tipyn i’w wneud o hyd.

Fel y mae pethau ar hyn o bryd, mae’r sir yn bwriadu adeiladu dwy ysgol Saesneg newydd, gan adleoli dwy ysgol gyfrwng Gymraeg. Pan fydd y ddwy ysgol cyfrwng Saesneg yn agor, bydd canran y dysgwyr mewn addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg yn y sir yn gostwng. Bydd dysgwyr sy’n derbyn eu haddysg drwy gyfrwng y Saesneg yn mynychu ysgolion newydd sbon â phob math o adnoddau newydd. Yn y cyfamser, bydd dysgwyr cyfrwng Cymraeg yn symud i adeiladau sy’n hen ac sy’n adfeilio. Does dim angen unrhyw dystiolaeth bellach fod trywydd cyngor Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr o ran addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg yn gwbl annheg, yn atal unrhyw gynnydd o gwbl ac yn mynd yn groes i amcanion strategaeth Cymraeg 2050. Mae hyn yn fygythiad uniongyrchol i ddatblygiad y Gymraeg – nid bygythiad yn unig o safbwynt y Gymraeg yn yr ystafell ddosbarth, ond bygythiad hefyd i ddatblygiad y Gymraeg fel iaith sy’n cael ei defnyddio yn y gymuned.

Mae’r diffyg brys ar ran cyngor Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr yn adrodd cyfrolau.

Os ydym am weld yr iaith yn ffynnu yn y sir, mae angen newid radical ym mholisi ac agwedd y cyngor at y Gymraeg. Dylai Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr fod yn anelu at ragori ar dargedau Llywodraeth Cymru, yn hytrach na bodloni ar eu cyflawni yn unig.


Aberdare St, Bridgend. By MRNasher, Public Domain.

Luke Fletcher, Pencoed Town Councillor

It is often said that Bridgend is a very English area, and it’s easy to see why this perception exists. After all, Bridgend has one of the lowest proportions of Welsh-medium learners anywhere in Wales.

What is often overlooked is the fact that the Welsh language has a proud history in the county. As a market town, Welsh had been the dominant language in Maesteg for the majority of its existence, until the turn of the twentieth century.

The remnants of this history are evident in the street names in the towns dotted around the county. In Pencoed, I would wager that a substantial majority of the streets dated before the turn of the millennium have Welsh names.

I myself was raised on a street named Pant Glas, for example.

Experience

I grew up in Pencoed and was born into a non-Welsh speaking family. Pencoed has a population of roughly 10,000 to 11,000 people.

In order to receive Welsh-medium education, I travelled to Brackla to attend primary school and then to Llanhari (outside the county’s boundaries) to attend the comprehensive school. But in my brother’s case, he had to travel all the way to Llangynwyd to attend a Welsh-medium secondary school, which took 45 minutes each way.

For many parents, that trip would be difficult if not impossible. In any case, it’s unacceptable to ask parents to send their children long distances to receive their education through the medium of Welsh.

In Pencoed, there are two English-medium primary schools and one English-medium secondary school.

As things stand in Bridgend county, there are only 4 Welsh-medium primary schools – Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Ogwr, Ysgol y Ferch o’r Sger, Ysgol Gynradd Cwm Garw and Ysgol Gynradd Cynwyd Sant. Worse still, there is only one secondary school – Ysgol Gyfun Llangynwyd. These schools cover an area with a population of roughly 145,000 people.

It’s not as though the demand isn’t there. The issue facing parents in Bridgend currently is how far are they willing to send their child to receive a Welsh-medium education. Some parents will opt for an English-medium education for their child due to the school’s proximity.

Regulations

When it comes to the percentage of learners educated through the medium of Welsh, we all know that counties in the south generally lag behind when compared with counties in the north-west or in the heartlands of the Welsh language.

However, even in comparison with its neighbouring counties (which themselves do not boast high percentages of Welsh-medium learners), the situation in Bridgend is incredibly discouraging. According to recent figures cited by new campaign group, Cymraeg Pen-y-bont, just shy of 19% of KS3 learners in Rhondda Cynon Taf were assessed through the medium of Welsh in 2018. This seems like an insufficient figure, until it is compared with the percentage for Bridgend, which fell short of 7%.

Since 2012, each local authority has had to produce a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), outlining its proposals on how it will increase and improve Welsh-medium education in the county. Section 84 of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 requires local authorities to draw up a WESP, covering a three-year period, and then submit it to the Welsh Government in accordance with section 85.

It is fair to say that BCBC has lacked ambition in its WESPs over recent years. A WESP for 2017–2020 proposed that the local authority would increase the number of Year 1 learners in Welsh-medium education from 141 to 158 over 3 years. An increase of 17 learners. Half a classroom. As a result, the 2017–2020 WESP submitted by BCBC was rejected and sent back as it wasn’t ambitious enough.

Welsh Government recently concluded a consultation on proposed changes to the preparation of WESPs. Each local authority will be required to produce new WESPs covering a ten-year period, the first of which would be for 2021–2030. As part of the guidance released by Welsh Government about these proposed changes, all counties in Wales received an advisory target to increase the percentage of learners in Welsh-medium education, in line with the Cymraeg 2050 strategy. Local authorities themselves will have to review these suggested targets, then propose a WESP including targets based on the guidance issued by Welsh Government.

Let’s compare the Government’s suggested target for Bridgend with neighbouring Rhondda Cynon Taf. Bridgend has a target of increasing the percentage of Year 1 learners in Welsh-medium education to 15%–19% by 2030 (up from 8.7% in 2017/2018). Meanwhile, Rhondda Cynon Taf has a target of 27%–31%. Bordering Bridgend county to the west is Neath Port Talbot – a county which in 2017/2018 saw a percentage of 17.3% of Year 1 learners in Welsh-medium education. Its target for 2030, like Rhondda Cynon Taf, is an increase to 27%–31%.

While it is clear that both Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot are in no way ahead of the pack with regards to Welsh-medium education, they are a fair few strides ahead of Bridgend. Given the socio-economic and demographic similarities of all three counties, the disparity between them is particularly striking.

While some believe these targets from Welsh Government do not go far enough, there is little doubt that even the suggested increases will be a significant challenge for Bridgend. This, in no small part, is due to the fact that the Labour-led council at BCBC does not seem to be taking these targets seriously. Is there a lack of ambition on the part of the Labour-led council? Has it displayed any proactive good will whatsoever when drawing up WESPs for the county in years gone by?

I don’t believe Welsh Government’s suggested target for Bridgend is anywhere near high enough, and in my view reflects the historic lack of urgency or political will displayed by BCBC with regards to promoting Welsh-medium education in the county. There is no statutory mechanism in place, either, to enforce compliance with this target – as things stand, BCBC could fall short of its target with no real repercussions. If we want to see the Welsh language revived in Bridgend and meaningfully contribute as a county to the Cymraeg 2050 strategy, we must do better than this.

Urgency

To begin to see any substantial increase in the number of Welsh-medium learners, the county would have to begin to build more than one Welsh-medium primary school. BCBC seems to be pushing against this idea. A consistent argument used against building more Welsh-medium schools is that there are still unfilled places in schools, and that therefore there is no demand. This argument and attitude must be abandoned if any progress is to be made.

Although BCBC has now implemented a policy of not sending Welsh-medium learners out of the county by 2020-2021, there is still a long way to go. As things stand, the county is planning on building two brand new English-medium schools, and will relocate two Welsh-medium schools to different sites. When these new English-medium schools open, the percentage of Welsh-medium learners in the county will fall. English-medium learners will receive their education in custom-built, state of the art buildings, while the county’s Welsh-medium schools will be relocated to old, dilapidated sites. This course of action on the part of Bridgend council is unfair, regressive and is in direct contradiction of the Cymraeg 2050 strategy. It also poses a direct threat to the development of the Welsh language, stunting its growth not just as a language in the classroom but also a language used in the community.

The lack of urgency displayed by the cabinet in BCBC speaks volumes.

If we are to see the language thrive in Bridgend, there needs to be a radical shift in BCBC’s policy and attitude towards the Welsh language. Bridgend should be aiming not only to meet Welsh Government’s targets, but to surpass them.

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SibrydionmawrPenderynGMPHuw DaviesRhosddu Recent comment authors
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Ben Angwin
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Ben Angwin

There has always been a thread in Welsh Socialism which hates Cymraeg, and a strand of it wove into Welsh Labour as it was formed.

Robert Tyler
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Robert Tyler

What’s holding back the revival of the Welsh language in Bridgend? The Labour Party. As in Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent, etc, etc.

Rather not say
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Rather not say

The problem is not necessarily with the authorities (although granted they aren’t helping) but with the perception of the whole system of education. I would suggest it is unreasonble to expect monoglot English-speaking parents to be sufficiently bothered about Welsh medium education to make huge efforts to ensure their kids obtain it? There is the fear, whether justified or not, that they won’t be able to help children if they can’t speak the language themselves? So why not put some effort into teaching adults too? I know there are adult-education courses now, but I suspect with a bit of thinking… Read more »

Penderyn
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Penderyn

a minority of schools at 30% will not revive a language in a vastly powerful American-english world…..need incredible policy changes

Gareth
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Gareth

I grew up in Bridgend. I attended Brynteg School (the same school as Carwyn Jones). At the end of year 9, kids who spoke Welsh sat their Welsh GCSE early (in order to free up a choice at GCSE level), there were about 6 kids out of a year group of 300. I had to take Welsh at GCSE level – across the whole year group there were twelve classes – 2 full course Welsh and 10 short course. Far more kids chose to take French and/or German at GCSE than Welsh. A few years ago I looked up the… Read more »

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

You forget, though, that much of Cymru outside the Bro Gymraeg likewise had appaling provision for teaching Welsh until a few years ago, and that nearly all counties have turned the corner in that respect, to the point where parents in a town like Wrecsam can’t get their kids into a Welsh-medium school because the demand is so high, despite a programme of building new Welsh-medium primaries; adult Welsh education there is superb. Why has Penybot lagged behind when neighbouring counties haven’t? I’ll wager that if a new Welsh-medium school were to be built there, it would be full in… Read more »

GMP
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GMP

My understanding is that all the Welsh language schools in the Newport catchment are oversubscribed too, which is fantastic – there’s a lot of work to do, but the cup is definitely half full imho. I even hear Welsh being spoken on the streets of Newport much more often than I used to (it was extremely rare 20 years ago!) – The demand is there in places like Bridgend, Newport and other parts of South Wales where some may try to argue it is not, or that these areas are somehow ‘less’ Welsh (nonsense and unhelpful, as Wales needs to… Read more »

Sibrydionmawr
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Sibrydionmawr

That’s been the experience in Cardiff and during the 80s and much of the 90s Cardiff councillors were very slow in increasing provision, and I can remember one campaign where all sorts of delaying tactics were put in place, such as proposing sites situated next to busy, dangerous roads etc. I remember a group of adult learners I taught in Splott in the early noughties, all all of whom Cardiff born and bred, an d most of them native Splottlanders too, who were passionate about the language and heavily involved in campaigning to get Welsh medium provision in Splott. Their… Read more »

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Penybont Borough Council always plays the “hard up ” card. Invariably initiatives are rejected due to financial constraints yet they are quite lavish in spending on themselves ( council officials and officers ). There was a brief period when Labour were out of office but the same old underlying culture prevailed. Their economic development record is no great shakes either. All the big employers are there because of UK and later Welsh government efforts, and these in turn did fetch in some supply chain companies. All very vulnerable, like when Sony changed its business and soon Ford will take its… Read more »