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welcome to the website of 'parents for Welsh medium education'
 
Welcome to the Parents for Welsh Medium Education website (RhAG)! RhAG works to improve Welsh-medium education for pupils the length and breadth of Wales. On our website, you can use the map to find a local Welsh-medium school for your children, download resources to help you in your fight for Welsh-medium education locally, keep up to date with developments and news on Ceris blog (our Development Officer), or share your experiences with other parents on our special forum, \'Maes Rh\'. We depend on parents like you to help us fight for Welsh-medium education - join us!

Lynne Davies, RhAG Chair.
what's new...
Downloads:
Rhagolwg - latest issue...
Llythyr agored CLlLC...
Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Caerau Letter_June 2017...
Rhagolwg 34...
Welsh medium schoools: planning for growth...
Cofnodion Cyfarfod Blynyddol 2015...
Adroddiad Blynyddol 2015-16...
WESPs National Overview...
Trosolwg Cenedlaethol Cynlluniau y Gymraeg mewn Addysg 2017-20...
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Booking Form 2015 AGM...
A languagefor our country, a language for our schools: a manifesto for...
National Overview: Welsh in Education Strategic Plans...
Adroddiad Blynyddol 2013-14...
Transport and post 16 Welsh medium education in Bridgend...
TRANSPORT AND POST 16 WELSH MEDIUM EDUCATION...
Rhagolwg - edition, 30, Summer 2014...
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Adolygiad or Cwricwlwm Cenedlaethol ar Trefniadau Asesu...
WESPs 2014-17 - National Overview...
Ymateb RhAG i Ymgynghoriad Effeithlonrwydd Cyngor Merthyr Tudful - Cyn...
Report: A survey of the impact of introducing travel fees on Welsh-med...
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Adroddiad Blynyddol 2012-13...
Rhagolwg -Summer 2013...
Polisi Cynaliadwyedd_Adolygwyd Ebrill 2013...
RhAG Evidence for the Committee of Experts on the European Charter for...
The Growth of Welsh Medium Education 2012-2020...
Adroddiad Blynyddol 2011-12...
Booking Form 2012 Conference...
Invitation Conference & AGM 2012...
Rhifyn Arbennig Rhagolwg...
Special edition Rhagolwg...
RhAG Annual Report 2010-2011...
RhAG Corporate Plan 2012-13...
Adroddiad ar ganfyddiadau arolwg RhAG De Powys...
Adroddiad ar ganfyddiadau arolwg Gogledd Ddwyrain Powys (Mudiad Addysg...
South Powys RhAG - questionnaire...
Arolwg RhAG De Powys - holiadur...
Maniffesto RhAG ar gyfer Etholiad 2011 Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru...
Ymateb RhAG i ddogfen ymgynghorol Iaith Fyw:Iaith Byw...
RhAG Manifesto for 2011 National Assembly of Wales Elections...
RhAG Llanfair-ym-Muallt Meeting...
Adroddiad Blynyddol RhAG 2009-10...
Cofnodion Cyfarfod Blynyddol 2008 -2009...
RhAG AGM and Conference 2010...
RhAG 2010 Conference + AGM Registration form...
Adroddiad Blynyddol 2008-09...
Adroddiad y Cadeirydd 2008-09...
Cynllun Corfforaethol RhAG 2010-11...
Adroddiad Blynyddol 2006-07...
Cofnodion Cyfarfod Blynyddol 2006...
Cofnodion Cyfarfod Blynyddol 2007...
Cofnodion Cyfarfod Blynyddol 2008...
RhAG Constitution...
Astudiaeth Achos - Dosbarthiadau Cychwynnol...
Celebrating the Language response to Welsh measure...
RhAG's response to the 2010 Welsh Language Measure...
Calls on Cardiff Council’s cabinet to reject recommendations detrimental to WM education
RHAG has called on Cardiff Council's cabinet to reject recommendations that could be detrimental to the growth of Welsh medium education in the city. A report is expected to go to cabinet tomorrow (16 November) that proposes significant changes to the School Admissions arrangements in 2019/10. In a letter to Councillor Huw Thomas, Leader of the Council, Councillor Sarah Merry, Deputy Leader & Member for Education and all Cabinet members, Nona Gruffudd-Evans on behalf of the Cardiff RhAG Committee criticizes the report for a "lack of consideration to the Welsh language " and for “a fundamental failure to fully grasp the specific needs of Welsh medium education." The letter states, “Following our meeting earlier this year with the Leader and Deputy Leader, it was our hope that the Council intended to adopt a proactive approach towards Welsh-medium education in the city. Among the many points, constructively discussed, was the need for significant growth in places, and the urgent need for reorganisation of catchment areas in the South of the City - especially given the limited awareness of Welsh medium education in Butetown, due to a historical lack of provision in the area. “So it was with real disappointment that we read the report, published last week, discussing catchment areas and access to schools, for more than one reason. The overall lack of consideration for the Welsh language in the report and its recommendations is shameful, indeed, there is little reference to the Council’s Welsh in Education Strategic Plan 2017- 2020, which is a statutory document in terms of planning Welsh-medium provision in the city. Indeed, we are not aware that these documents have gone before the Welsh Education Forum, which is responsible for monitoring and evaluating progress in relation to that work. “On this basis, we feel that the Welsh language is not treated fairly, indeed it is dealt with in a manner which is wholly unacceptable. There is a fundamental failure here to fully grasp the specific needs of Welsh medium education. “We must draw particular attention to the implications in terms of changing the admission criteria to families in large Welsh language catchment areas, such as Grangetown. The recommendation to omit the criterion that prioritises siblings is bound to cause significant problems for some families, where children and young children will be required to go to different Welsh-medium schools. The idea of having to travel from the center of Grangetown to Butetown to escort one child to school, before returning to Ysgol Pwll Coch with another child, is alarming. “This example demonstrates the danger that arises when omitting Welsh language considerations in relation to such a report. It is alleged that the focus is on secondary education, but the implementation of the recommendations would have an effect on all education sectors. Producing a report which effectively gives prominent priority to English-medium secondary schools, places a bias on the report in a way that disregards the differing needs of the Welsh-medium primary schools in particular. “For these reasons, we urge you to reconsider the submission of these recommendations to Cabinet on Thursday. In our view, the only sensible way forward is to produce another report that considers access to schools and catchment areas from the perspective of Welsh medium education, in full consultation with the governing bodies of all WM schools, Cardiff Welsh Education Forum and other key stakeholders, to ensure that the recommendations that are finally implemented are reasonable and proportionate, and work for the benefit of all the city's schools. “Cardiff Council has a duty to act in a way which stimulates the growth of Welsh medium education and to contribute in a meaningful way to the Welsh Labour Government’s target of a million Welsh speakers by 2050. Implementing these recommendations would undermine any efforts in achieving this.” end Notes Agenda, Thursday 16 November, 2pm http://cardiff.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=151&MId=3078&LLL=1 Report on School Admission Arrangements 2019/20: http://cardiff.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s18453/Cabinet%2016%20Nov%202017%20School%20Admissions.pdf?LLL=1 RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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RhAG welcomes proposal for a new WM primary school in Wrexham
RhAG has enthusiastically welcomed proposals by Wrexham Council to open a new Welsh-medium primary school in the Borras area in its response to a consultation which closes today (7 November). The Council intends to establish a 210 place school to open in September 2019 on a temporary site at Hafod Y Wern Infant School before relocating to a permanent site at Borras Park. Rhodri Davies, Chairman of Wrexham RhAG said "RhAG Wrexham has been calling for some time to increase Welsh medium primary provision in Wrexham. In recent years, many of the county's Welsh medium schools have been under great pressure - the Reception class in four of the six schools were full in September 2017. This has meant that many parents have failed to secure a place at the nearest school to their home and that siblings have been separated. "We are very pleased that the Local Authority recognizes the need to act in order to alleviate the increasing pressure in the north of the County and respond to the tremendous growth in the general demand for Welsh-medium education in the area. Recent growth patterns prove that the demand for Welsh-medium education in Wrexham will increase in the next few years; developing this new provision will be an important step in ensuring that more parents are able to choose Welsh-medium education and that provision is more locally available. "However, the proposal does not address the immediate challenges that currently exist. We urge the Local Authority, as part of this proposal to put in place temporary measures, including increasing school admission numbers and temporary building provision, for September 2018. "Further to that, the growth in the primary causes concerns regarding implications for secondary provision. Currently, Ysgol Morgan Llwyd is the only school that provides education through the medium of Welsh. It is also time to consider establishing a second WM secondary provision in Wrexham to ensure seamless continuity of provision for the increasing numbers that choose Welsh medium education in the area. "We strongly recommend that the Executive Board approves this proposal, in order to make further progress in terms of promoting the growth of Welsh medium education in the County as well as contributing to the Welsh Government's target of having a million Welsh speakers by 2050." end Notes In 2013, the last Welsh medium school opened in Wrexham was Ysgol Bro Alun, Gwersyllt. The school's growth has been phenomenal, with the Nursery and Reception classes full and the school already being oversubscribed. Numbers taught through the medium of Welsh in the primary sector have increased by 58.81% over the last 10 years. In the same period, the numbers of additional places created have only increased by 51%. (Draft Wrexham Welsh in Education Strategic Plan 2017-20) RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Government must legislate to expand Welsh Medium Education
Any new Welsh Language Act should include statutory measures to strengthen the case of Welsh medium education. This is RhAG’s call in response to the Welsh Government White Paper that proposes to amend legislation in relation to the language. RhAG Chairperson, Lynne Davies, said: "RhAG fully supports the Government's ambition for a million Welsh speakers by 2050. The objectives are commendable, but the White Paper in question does not succeed in resolving the gaps in the existing legislative infrastructure. The advent of a new Language Act is an opportunity to discuss how any new legal framework can be a vehicle to allow Welsh medium education to develop. "It is recognized that the future of the Welsh language is dependent on achieving the best conditions for Welsh-medium education to flourish. We therefore believe that specific duties are required to ensure that local authorities respond appropriately to the demand for Welsh medium education and increase the provision. "It is the responsibility of the Welsh Government to lead on national education policy. But responsibility for action is in the hands of local authorities, and this is the main weakness at the moment. So far, we have had 6 years of a Welsh Medium Education Strategy which has had no real teeth, and progress has been slow. We cannot continue to progress as such a slow pace if the Government is serious about reaching its 2050 target. "Current legislation in relation to Welsh medium education is very flawed, there is nothing at the moment that ensures that local authorities act, holds them to account if they do not act or that empowers parents to challenge inaction. The Standards system, to date, has not contributed in any meaningful way to rectify that situation. As a result, current parental rights in terms of Welsh medium education remain vague and unclear. "RhAG has previously called for a Welsh medium Education Bill (Assembly Election Manifesto 2016). We urge in the strongest terms that Welsh-medium education is included within the compass of any new legislation. A situation in which Welsh language law sits apart from education law must be avoided." end Notes RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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WESTERN MAIL LETTER: Future growth of WM education in Cardiff
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WESTERN MAIL LETTER: WM education provision in Ely & Caerau
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Review of Welsh in Education Plans: rapid action necessary
THE Welsh Government needs to accept and promptly implement all recommendations in the rapid review of the 2017-20 Welsh in Education Strategic Plans. This is the call made by RhAG as the independent report, drawn up by former Assembly Member Aled Roberts, is debated in the Senedd today. RhAG Chairperson, Lynne Davies, said: "RhAG has already expressed concern about the glaring deficiencies of the current crop of draft Plans, which, overall, fail to demonstrate the vision and ambition needed to accelerate the necessary growth of Welsh-medium education. The report summarizes and highlights the main challenges and weaknesses of the current system, both locally and nationally. "We also call on the Government to publish the individual responses sent to each Local Authority, as the devil really is in the detail. Broad statements and over simplistic generalisations are inadequate and allows the counties to avoid their individual responsibility in terms of contributing towards the national goal. "Without increasing the numbers receiving their education through the medium of Welsh, it will be nigh on impossible to reach the Government's target of a million speakers by 2050. The opening of more Welsh-medium schools is an indispensable element of the journey towards the million. Now is the time for the Welsh Government to provide clear leadership and set the necessary foundations to facilitate the growth of Welsh-medium education in all parts of the country. Nothing less than a transformative approach can be acceptable.” end Notes Rapid review of the Welsh in Education Strategic Plans 2017-20: http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/allsectorpolicies/welshmededuca/rapid-review-of-the-welsh-in-education-strategic-plans/?skip=1&lang=en RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Capital funding for Welsh medium education: time for innovation
RHAG has called on Local Authorities to adopt an innovative approach to expanding Welsh-medium education provision as they prepare their bids for capital funding from the Welsh Government. Today the organisation published a map which shows what LAs have spent on Welsh medium education since the 21st Century Schools Program was established in 2011. Local Authorities are currently in the process of finalising their proposals for Band B funding which will be allocated between 2019-2024. This follows the recommendations of the rapid review of the Welsh in Education Strategic Plans led by former AM, Aled Roberts, which include: • Welsh Government to publish clear guidance in respect of capital investment allocated to Welsh medium education. • Review the timeframe of the WESPs to coincide with the Welsh Government’s Capital Schemes, specifically the 21st Century Schools Program. Lynne Davies RhAG National Chair, said: "RhAG has already expressed concern about the lack of projects within the 21st Century Schools Program relating to Welsh medium education. The map we have published shows that a number of LAs have spent next to nothing on Welsh-medium schools since the program was set up in 2011. It cannot be possible to accept a situation where LAs avoid investing during the next funding period. "Achieving the Welsh Government's ambitious goal of a million speakers by 2050 is totally dependent on increasing the numbers receiving their education through the medium of Welsh. So opening more Welsh-medium schools is an indispensable element of the journey towards the million. Now is the time for Government to provide clear leadership and for Local Authorities to demonstrate genuine ambition. Transformational change is needed. " End Notes Map showing Local Authority spending during the Band A period of the 21st Century Schools Programme, Welsh Government http://www.rhag.net/dogfennau/gwariant-cyfalaf-ysgolion-21-ganrif.pdf RhAG has previously expressed concern about the lack of projects within the 21st Century Schools Programme relating to Welsh medium education, highlighting the fact that the counties of Merthyr, Wrexham, Flintshire, Monmouthshire, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Blaenau Gwent have spent almost no Welsh medium schools since the program was created in 2011: http://www.rhag.net/stori.php?iaith=eng&id=194 RhAG has produced a series of maps highlighting the growth areas that should be prioritized: http://www.rhag.net/stori.php?iaith=eng&id=205 http://rhag.net/dogfennau/RHAG_ysgolion_cymraeg_2017_mapiau.pdf Rapid review of the WESPs 2017-20: http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/allsectorpolicies/welshmededuca/rapid-review-of-the-welsh-in-education-strategic-plans/?skip=1&lang=en RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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The growth of Welsh medium education: a challenge for the Welsh Local Government Association
RhAG has asked whether WLGA is doing its job in ensuring that its members are adequately responding for the needs of Welsh medium education and Welsh Government targets for growth. The organisation has written an open letter to them in relation to Local Authorities’ applications for Band B capital funding from the 21st Century Schools programme in light of the Welsh Government’s recent policy announcement of reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050. They have also asked for a response to the following: • Is the Association satisfied that the proposals are sufficiently ambitious and demonstrate that LAs are sufficiently prioritising the growth of Welsh medium education? • Is the Association satisfied that the proposals will lay the foundations necessary for the growth and expansion of Welsh medium education? • Is the Association satisfied that the proposals are fully aligned with the Welsh Government's policy of having a million Welsh speakers by 2050, and in particular with regard to the target that 30% of all Welsh children will receive their education through the medium of Welsh by 2031? • Does the Association agree that any decisions regarding allocation of funds should be delayed until the WESPs have been finalised, allowing LAs the opportunity to revisit their proposals in light of the findings in Aled Roberts’ imminent report? RhAG has also written to all LAs asking them to specify their priorities for the next funding period. Said Lynne Davies, RhAG Chairperson: “RhAG has already expressed concern about the lack of projects within the 21st Century Schools programme relating to Welsh medium education. A number of counties have spent almost nothing on Welsh medium schools since the programme was established in 2011. It cannot be possible to accept a situation where LAs avoid investing during the next funding period. “Reaching the ambitious goal set by the Government is completely dependent on increasing the numbers educated through the medium of Welsh. So growing the WM school infrastructure is an indispensable part of our journey towards the million. It is inevitable that significant additional funding will be required to support the growth of Welsh medium education, however it is disappointing that no new funding has been allocated either to the programme as a whole, or to support the growth of the Welsh medium sector in particular. If the intention of the government is to reach a million Welsh speakers by 2050, then we must ask seriously; how can this be achieved without the necessary resources? “We ask that the WLGA sets the agenda by providing strong and robust leadership at this time. Moreover we believe that the Association should act as a broker to facilitate a financial agreement between the Government and LAs. Much needed clarity is required in terms of the priorities for the next tranche of funding to bring central and local government closer to each other through the capital investment programme. We believe that the Association has a key part to play in that process.” end Notes A copy of the open letter can be found here: http://rhag.net/dogfennau/WLGA%20letter.pdf It is understood that LAs are expected to submit their outline applications by the end of July and that a decision is expected by the Welsh Government in the autumn. Band B funding will be implemented between 2019 – 2024. We also note that Aled Roberts’ report on the WESPs, where he is expected to present a series of recommendations along with general comments on individual Plans, is yet to be published. RhAG has previously undertaken an overview of all WESPs and concluded that 18 should be rejected because the vast majority were imprecise and unambitious, and that with very few exceptions, none committed to opening new schools: http://rhag.net/dogfennau/Trosolwg%20Cenedlaethol%202017-20%20(Saesneg)%20(002).pdf RhAG has produced a series of maps which identify several prominent growth areas where investment in new schools is urgently required: http://rhag.net/dogfennau/RHAG_ysgolion_cymraeg_2017_mapiau.pdf RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact: Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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On to the Million: action not words
"RhAG has today welcomed the Welsh Government's announcement to see the growth of Welsh medium education over the next 30 years. "Having 40% of pupils in Welsh medium education by 2050 is a significant step forward and a vital contribution to achieving the goal of one million speakers by 2050. "The organisation has already prepared a series of maps that identify a number of areas where Welsh medium schools should be established as a matter of urgency. Said Lynne Davies, RhAG Chairperson: "The ambitious goal set by the Government is completely dependent on increasing the numbers who are educated through the medium of Welsh. So increasing the infrastructure of Welsh medium schools is an indispensable element of our journey towards the Million. It is reassuring to see the Government recognise the need to accelerate this if we are to have any chance of success. "The writing is on the wall: the demand is out there, yet these schools will not materialize without revolutionizing attitudes and mentality and without certainty of unprecedented investment in the sector. "The weakness of the past has been the failure of government to ensure that local authorities act; we must ensure that Local Government take ownership of their operational responsibilities and that Central Government is clear about what practical support it can offer. We need to bridge the gap between aspiration and realizing that aspiration; working in partnership is the key, so let’s now ensure that everyone is seriously committed to achieving this in the coming years. " end Notes RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact: Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Vale of Glamorgan commits to strengthen Welsh language education provision
"RhAG has welcomed a public statement from the Vale of Glamorgan Council which commits to furthering the promotion and sufficiency of Welsh-medium education provision in the authority. “In response to a public question presented to Council on 28 June the Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture announced that this includes: "Establishing an immersion centre, making it possible for older children to access Welsh medium education; Creating and distributing a leaflet promoting Welsh medium education in the County. Responding to the statement, Ceri McEvoy RhAG Director of Development said; “This is a welcome announcement and ensures that Welsh medium education provision in the Vale of Glamorgan continues to develop and that pupils and families can access services which are currently available in other Local Authorities. “We will monitor progress in these areas along with our top priorities in the County such as a move of Ysgol Sant Baruc to the Barry Waterfront and an increase in Welsh medium capacity in Cowbridge." end Notes RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact: Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Parent Action Group present petition to Cardiff Council
Recently re-formed Action Group ‘Parents of Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Caerau Want Change’ will present a petition supported by over 500 signatories to Cardiff Council when they next meet on Thursday 29 June. The Action Group is campaigning for increased investment and improved resources and facilities at Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Caerau, the area’s only Welsh-medium primary school. An Action Group was also set up in 2015, which campaigned to highlight similar issues, none of which have been adequately resolved. Indeed, this will be the second time a petition is presented to Cardiff Council on this issue. Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Caerau was opened in 2007, originally in empty classrooms in Holy Family School Pentrebane, before moving to the current site – previously an Infants School - on Caerau Lane in 2010. Since then, the school has grown exponentially and is currently running at full capacity with 240 pupils on roll. The petition and accompanying letter will be formally presented to full Council and a copy sent to all councillors citing a number of concerns, which include: • Putting right the existing inadequacies in the facilities and resources available to the school, • Expanding the school’s limited and constrained site by making use of adjacent land. The school is currently operating on a site which is less than half the footprint recommended by current guidelines. • Providing necessary security measures to address ongoing anti-social behaviour and vandalism issues • Calling for an unequivocal commitment to urgently increase and expand the number of Welsh-medium primary school places in the local area Said Ceri Bailey on behalf of Parents for Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Caerau Want Change, "Establishing a Welsh medium primary school in our community has got to be one of the best decisions made by the council. Children of this area have been given the opportunity to learn in a bilingual environment, of which will lead to better educational outcomes. For an area such as this, educational facilities should be at the heart of provision, to ensure that children are given the opportunities that were once unobtainable." “We realise that it is a time of constrained budgets, however the basic needs of the school are currently not being met – indeed, they have not been met for a number of years. There is insufficient classroom space and the available land is inadequate for sporting activities. This cannot be deemed fair or right. We believe that the needs of our children are not being met and feel extremely let down by the Council. We are not asking for anything more than to be given a level playing field. Parents are now coming together to stand up and say that this situation is no longer acceptable.” Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development added, “ RhAG has been calling on Cardiff Council to act for some time, in line with its statutory responsibilities enshrined within their Welsh in Education Strategic Plan. There has been a complete lack of correlation between the numbers of parents wishing to access Welsh-medium Education, compared to the number of places provided for the last 5+ years. Demand is clearly outstripping supply however nothing is being done to address the situation. “According to the 2011 Census, Ely & Caerau had a combined population of 14,603, and yet the area is only provided with 30 Welsh-medium places. There are a number of planned housing developments in the area, which is certain to further increase demand, however all Welsh-medium schools in the wider vicinity are at full capacity. RhAG will continue to support these parents until their voices are heard and decisive action is taken by Cardiff Council to remedy this untenable situation.” End Notes Petition: https://www.change.org/p/cardiff-county-council-parents-want-change-for-ysgol-gymraeg-nant-caerau?recruiter=268685571&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_content=nafta_share_post_title_en_2%3Acontrol Letter sent to all Cardiff Councillors: http://www.rhag.net/dogfennau/Ysgol%20Gymraeg%20Nant%20Caerau%20(002).pdf Number of school admission refusals at Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Caerau; 2012 – 13 2013 – 10 2014 – 14 2015 – 21 2016 – 25 RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact: Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net or Ceri Bailey on baileyceri@gmail.com or 07539621965
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Accelerating the growth of Welsh medium education in Bridgend
BRIDGEND County Borough Council should take urgent action to improve the provision of Welsh-medium education in the county and plan to open more schools. National parent-led organisation RhAG – Parents for Welsh medium Education - has called on the council to act as the area hosts the National Urdd Eisteddfod this week. There are still no Welsh-medium primary schools in parts of the county, and the secondary school is located in the northernmost part of the borough. Although the county has discussed the need for more Welsh-medium schools, very little has happened there for decades, with the exception of Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd, which opened in 2008. Local parents want to see: • Relocating Ysgol Gyfun Llangynwyd to a central position in the county • Establish a new primary school or a 3-19 school • Establish new Welsh-medium primary schools in Porthcawl and the southwest area of Bridgend • More provision in the Pencoed area, since Ysgol Dolau in RCT is full. Said Lisa Wilson, Chair of RhAG Bridgend, “ Approximately 140,000 people live in the county of Bridgend, some 13,000 more than the Vale of Glamorgan. And yet, the Vale of Glamorgan has 7 Welsh medium primary schools, but there are only 4 in the county of Bridgend. According to the 2011 Census population about 10% of both counties can speak Welsh, but the Vale is preparing more effectively for the future. i.e. proposals are currently being submitted to the Vale of Glamorgan Council to increase the number of secondary school pupils in Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg. “Three of the four schools are full or within 10% of reaching their capacity, and yet there are currently no proposals outlined within the county’s Welsh in Education Development Plan to resolve this. Ysgol Bro Ogwr has been running at full capacity for years, and children have been refused a place as a result. Almost 30 years have passed since the last Welsh medium primary school was opened, with the county having failed to make any progress, which unfortunately is similar to the nearby county of Neath Port Talbot. "The Welsh Government’s ambitious goal of reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050 is entirely dependent on increasing the numbers of pupils who are educated through the medium of Welsh. Increasing the infrastructure of Welsh medium schools is an absolutely vital element in the planning of national language policy. We need to accelerate growth if we are to have any hope of reaching this goal. “We look forward to the growth of Welsh-medium education in Bridgend as a result of the Welsh Government’s ambitious targets and the commitment of the First Minister Carwyn Jones, who represents the constituency of Bridgend, to Welsh-medium education.” End Notes Currently there are four primary schools and one Welsh medium secondary school in the county of Bridgend: • Y Ferch o’r Sger, Cornelly • Cynwyd Sant, Maesteg • Bro Ogwr, Brackla • Cwm Garw, Pontycymer • Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd Ysgol Gymraeg Tyderwen – the Welsh language school opened in Maesteg in 1948 – was among the first Welsh-medium schools in South Wales. A Welsh language unit was opened in Coety in 1962 before moving to Bridgend in 1974. Ysgol Y Ferch o’r Sger opened in 1982 and Ysgol Cwm Garw in 1988. RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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New Welsh medium schools needed urgently
PLANS should be in place to open new Welsh medium schools in more than 35 new areas by 2020. This is a call made by RhAG as they prepare to meet today with the Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language. The organisation has prepared a series of maps identifying priority areas for establishing new Welsh medium schools in the next few years. Those areas have been suggested on the basis of demand currently unmet or due to lack of local provision. The organisation has already been campaigning for new schools in these areas for some time. Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said, "The Welsh Government’s ambitious goal of reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050 is entirely dependent on increasing the numbers of pupils who are educated through the medium of Welsh. Increasing the infrastructure of Welsh medium schools is an absolutely vital element in the planning of national language policy. We need to accelerate growth if we are to have any hope of reaching this goal. "There are very few promises of new Welsh medium schools in the next crop of Welsh in Education Strategic Plans for 2017-20. RhAG has identified the areas where LAs should move immediately to develop new Welsh medium schools. The next set of Plans should include firm commitments to open new Welsh medium schools in these locations. "We must move away from the constant need for relentless campaigning and pressure from parents; strategic planning must now take the lead with Local Government taking ownership of their operational responsibilities and Central Government clear about their expectations and what practical support they can offer. Working in partnership is the key, as the Minister himself has said, so let’s now ensure that everyone is seriously committed to achieving this in the coming years. " End Notes Click here to access the maps: http://rhag.net/dogfennau/RHAG_ysgolion_cymraeg_2017_mapiau.pdf RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Lack of Welsh medium school places in Wrexham
Several parents in Wrexham are distraught yet again this year as they feel let down by the council whose child has been refused a place in their desired Welsh medium primary school. This is yet another year that parents have received this devastating news that their child has not been offered a place. In some cases it means that families have siblings in two different schools. Some parents have been refused a place in their first and second preference Welsh medium school and are seriously considering placing their child in an English medium school. RhAG, a society that campaigns on behalf of parents wishing their children to receive Welsh medium education, has been calling on Wrexham County Borough Council to address this issue with urgency rather than claim it is a temporary spike in demand. Over the past years, several parents have expressed concern that they will experience real difficulties securing a place for their child and this has been the case for Nia Hughes-Pollard of Cefn-y-Bedd. Nia who lives within a mile to her first preference and a little over a mile to her second has been unsuccessful in gaining a place for her daughter. The only school the council has offered her is about 5 miles away. "I honestly think this is too far for us as a family to manage in the mornings and I am seriously considering sending my child to an English medium school. This does not feel right for us because we speak Welsh as a family at home." Clare Roberts of Wrexham is another parent who has not succeeded in getting her youngest son into the Nursery class in the same school as his eldest brother. She said "This was heartbreaking news for us as a family. We have found it very difficult to explain to our children why they cannot attend the same school. It is going to cause us severe headache to work out the logistics of being in two schools at the same time to drop off our sons and also get to work ourselves. The council don't seem to care about this at all." Another parent, Brian Williams of Rhostyllen, has not been able to get a place in their preferred school and will have to travel to another school. "I just cannot believe that in Wales I have found it so difficult to get my child a Welsh medium education. I am a proud Welshman who wants my child to speak Welsh." said Mr Williams. "Last year when there was no space in the Welsh medium Nursery class I was told by the council I could send them to an English school for a year because they learn some Welsh. I was appalled and kept my child at home." Mr. Williams explained his anger with the situation, adding "I am not happy this year because the school we have been offered a reception place is further away from our home and the town centre, and is going to add to the distance we will have to travel in the morning. Both my wife and I work in town and it is going to be difficult." Trudi Stott of Gwersyllt discovered that her daughter had no Reception place at the school where she attended Nursery class."It is awful to find out your child has been refused a place in the Reception class of the school she attended for a year in Nursery," she said. "Having to reassure a 4 year-old that it is not her fault but that she won't be able to go to the same school as her friends is the hardest thing of all." The chair of RhAG Wrecsam, Rhodri Davies, said "We are devastated to hear from so many disappointed parents again this year, often they are in tears explaining the situations they face. This is having a significant impact on many families for several reasons."
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Signing of the Donostia Protocol
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RhAG calls for dedicated capital funding to expand Welsh medium education
RhAG has called on the Welsh Government to review its 21st Century Schools Capital Investment Programme to include a specific criterion that requires Local Authorities to increase the provision of Welsh medium education. This comes as RhAG corresponds with a number of LAs, including Merthyr, Wrexham, Flintshire, Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent and Rhondda Cynon Taff, who have spent next to nothing on Welsh medium schools since the programme was launched in 2011. RhAG has previously expressed concern about the lack of projects within the 21st Century Schools Programme relating to Welsh medium schools. This is a real concern, as the programme’s first funding phase will not end until 2019. Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said, "It is inevitable that substantial additional funding is required to expand Welsh medium education provision, but thus far, no additional funding has been allocated to support the sector’s growth. The programme’s current priorities are not helpful to the specific needs of the Welsh medium sector and this must now be addressed as a matter of urgency. "If the Government intends to realise its ambitious target of a million speakers by 2050; how can this be achieved without allocating the necessary resources? Clarity is required in terms of the priorities of the next funding period in order to bring central and local government closer to each other through the capital programme. "Following the Minister’s recent announcement that an independent review of the Welsh in Education Strategic Plans will be carried out, we also believe that a review of the capital funding program is necessary in order to ensure that its objectives are fully aligned with the Welsh Government’s policy in relation to Welsh medium education. Only by including a specific criterion to increase Welsh medium education during the next phase of funding can this be secured.” End Notes RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net Column 1: Local Authority Column 2: Total expenditure earmarked Column 3: Total earmarked for WM schools Column 4: Percentage earmarked for WM schools Column 5: Total earmarked for EM schools Column 6: Percentage earmarked for EM schools Abertawe 51,210,000 11,145,584 22% 40,064,416 78% Blaenau Gwent 20,250,000 0 0% 20,250,000 100% Bro Morgannwg 31,848,500 9,123,500 29% 22,725,000 71% Caerdydd 164,124,483 36,633,864 22% 127,490,619 78% Caerfyrddin 85,410,000 68,638,500 80% 16,771,500 20% Caerffili 56,535,000 20,000,000 35% 36,535,000 65% Casnewydd 44,593,481 33,912,090 76% 10,681,391 24% NPT 126,937,751 34,546,395 27% 92,391,356 73% Dinbych 86,055,662 26,603,269 31% 59,452,393 69% Ceredigion 39,200,000 39,200,000 100% 0 0% Conwy 17,950,000 14,121,700 79% 3,828,300 21% Fflint 64,200,000 0 0% 64,200,000 100% Gwynedd 25,765,000 25,765,000 100% 0 0% Merthyr Tudful 19,000,000 0 0% 19,000,000 100% Mynwy 93,400,000 1,000,000 1% 92,400,000 99% Penfro 145,860,000 44,479,608 30% 101,380,392 70% Pen-y-bont 49,488,802 5,400,000 11% 44,088,802 89% Powys 79,968,925 31,306,060 39% 48,662,866 61% RCT 160,000,000 708,147 0.5% 159,291,853 99.5% Torfaen 86,075,000 10,250,000 12% 75,825,000 88% Wrecsam 22,300,000 1,018,489 5% 21,281,511 95% Ynys Môn 27,553,397 27,553,397 100% 0 0% TOTAL 1,497,726,00 441,405,602 29.5% 1,056,320,39 70.5%
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RhAG welcomes review of Welsh in Education Strategic Plans
RhAG has welcomed the Welsh Government’s announcement that former AM Aled Roberts will lead on a review of all LAs Welsh in Education Strategic Plans. The organisation has already called for a change to the format and structure of the Plans and that they need to show much more ambition and vision for growth. RhAG has identified the following shortcomings: i. A need for growth in Early Years and Reception age ii. The need to identify growth over 10 years, not 3. iii. A need to specify what cooperation the Government will offer LEAs, in terms of capital investment, to increase Welsh medium education. iv. The need to specify progress in terms of increasing the workforce required to achieve these targets. Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said, "We hope that this appointment won’t in any way be used to delay the Government’s decisions; and that the review highlights the urgent need to address a number of underlying weaknesses in the current system. "We have already asked to meet with Aled Roberts and very much hope that we will be given the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the process. We look forward to an early and meaningful report in due course, in order to move quickly to respond to the growing demand for Welsh medium education. " End Notes RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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FIRST WELSH MEDIUM SCHOOL ANNIVERSARY
RhAG has wished a happy birthday to the first designated Welsh-medium school to be established by a Local Authority. Tomorrow will mark 70 years to the day since the establishment of Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant, Llanelli on March 1, 1947. The school opened with 34 pupils under the care of two teachers, but now has 450 children on roll and the school is one of three designated Welsh-medium schools in the town of Llanelli. Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said, "On the day of our national patron saint, it is fit and proper for us to celebrate the tremendous growth of Welsh-medium education since those early days. It is important to remember how far the Welsh-medium schools movement has come in the last 70 years and significant that Llanelli was the first pioneer. Notable progress has been made, but much work remains to be done to meet the growing demand for Welsh language education provision that is easily accessible and within a reasonable distance of every home. Demand in Llanelli and in towns and villages across Wales continues to be unmet. Without the key contribution of the education system, the Welsh Government's ambitious target of one million speakers by 2050 will be unattainable. "Remembering the opening of the first Welsh-medium school in 1947 is an inspiration and motivation for achieving that goal." End Notes RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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RhAG calls for a Languages Fair in Wales
RhAG has called on the Welsh Government to host a Languages Fair ​​here in Wales. This comes on the eve of Language Show Scotland 2017 which will be held in Glasgow on March 10 – 11. Language Fair Scotland, which is part of Europe's largest language event, is free to the public and receives official support from the Scottish Government. The event takes place for anyone who is interested in languages ​​and includes seminars, language taster classes, forums and live cultural performances in celebration of world languages, including Gaelic, with a strong presence by Bòrdh na Gàidhlig, the body which works to promote Gaelic in Scotland. Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said, "This event is a great example of what is needed here in Wales. A lively, dynamic celebration which places minority languages ​​shoulder to shoulder with other world languages. This is exactly what is needed to reinforce the status of our indigenous languages ​​as contemporary, confident and outward looking. "The Welsh Government previously had a program to promote modern languages, led by CILT. But it is striking that this body no longer exists, despite the annual decline in numbers studying modern languages. There is a desperate need for language teachers – in all modern languages, including Welsh - and it would be good to see the Government put an exciting plan in place to attract the linguists of the future. "As the Government aims to achieve its target of a million Welsh speakers by 2050, the promotion of the Welsh language is crucial in the successful implementation of that policy. Such an event would offer a golden opportunity for a number of prominent stakeholders and partners to work together – which would include language planners, the education sector including Further Education and Higher Education – and other language groups, with the Government leading the work. "It would be an excellent opportunity to promote the benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism and offer an international perspective to the Welsh linguistic experience. A Languages ​​Fair would highlight the linguistic and cultural diversity of our communities in Wales and show the world that we are a country that celebrates all languages, both near and far. "RhAG would love to support such an event here in Wales.” End Notes RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net Language Show Scotland 2017 http://www.languageshowlive.co.uk/scotland/what-is-language-show-live-scotland/ For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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RHAG DEMANDS AN APOLOGY FROM THE BBC
RhAG (Parents for Welsh Medium Education) is demanding an apology from the BBC for today’s news items involving Welsh medium education. The items claim that RhAG wants people who don’t wish Welsh medium education to move across the border. RhAG has never expressed this, and RhAG would never profess such an idea. RhAG’s aim is for Welsh medium education to be available to all who wish their children to be fully bilingual. End Notes RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net or Heini Gruffudd, Research Officer on 01792 455410 / 07983506805
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Welsh medium Education: from evidence to action
RhAG will hold its AGM this week under the theme of "Welsh medium Education: from evidence to action". The national parent-led organisation will meet on Thursday, February 2nd, at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon, Newport and will welcome leading barrister Gwion Lewis as the guest speaker. RhAG is delighted to host this year’s AGM in Newport and convene on the site that is currently shared by Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Gwent Is Coed - the Authority’s first WM secondary school - opened in September 2016. Said Gwion Lewis, "In preparing the case for the Pentrecelyn Campaign last year, it became clear to me that this wasn’t the only recent example of far-reaching decisions being taken in the field of education in Wales on the basis of extremely defective linguistic assessments. We need to make greater use of the courts to challenge such decisions. I want to discuss possible legal tactics with others who share my concerns. " Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chair added, "We are honored to welcome such a distinguished guest speaker to our AGM this year. By shining a light on the Ysgol Pentrecelyn Campaign, we look forward to hearing Gwion Lewis reflect on the significance of this legal battle in the wider context of the growth of Welsh Medium Education. "We will ask – do parents actual experiences on the ground demonstrate that access to Welsh medium education is being improved? Is policy at the highest level being mainstreamed through the actions of local government and having a positive impact quickly enough? Is the planning system currently in place setting the best conditions to reach the ambitious target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050? "In view of the difficult financial climate and inevitable cuts in public budgets, we will consider the greatest challenges facing Local Authorities in achieving targets with relation to the development of WM education provision and specific aspects currently hindering growth. "And given that every LA is currently in the process of producing and delivering a second Welsh in Education Strategic Plan(WESP) to the attention of the Government, we will also discuss whether campaigning in the usual sense of the word continues to be necessary. We will discuss how RhAG’s activity has already evolved and further consider the nature of our contribution as an advocate for parents in response to an ever changing landscape.” End Notes Gwion Lewis http://www.landmarkchambers.co.uk/gwion_lewis http://rhag.net/stori.php?iaith=eng&id=186 RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh www.rhag.net   For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net  
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Weak Plans to develop Welsh medium education should be rejected
RhAG has called on the Minister with responsibility for the Welsh Language to reject the majority of Plan recently submitted by Local Authorities to develop Welsh medium Education and ask for them to be rewritten. The national parent-led organisation has made this call as Alun Davies AM evaluates Welsh in Education Strategic Plans presented by LAs to plan the growth of Welsh medium education over the next three years. This comes after AMs expresses similar concerns in a cross-party letter this week. RhAG is of the opinion that the second round of draft Plans submitted by LAs are inadequate and unambitious. Generally they lack concrete and measurable targets. Given that approximately 22% of 7 year old children currently receive their education through the medium of Welsh, these Plans will not make a genuine contribution to the national target of reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050. The weaknesses include: • Flawed framework - it won’t be possible to get any growth within the 3-year cycle since the children are already in the system • Very few details of how LAs will provide more places for Welsh medium education. • Lack of sufficient emphasis, or in the case of a number of LAs, no emphasis whatsoever on proactively promoting Welsh medium education to stimulate growth. • Very little information about how LAs will inform parents about the advantages of Welsh medium education and bilingualism • The need to expand Welsh medium education should be a criterion in the next tranche of 21st Century Schools Capital Funding Programme Said Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chair, "We are concerned that the current framework is flawed. We need a system that is fit for purpose, and based on the experience of scrutinising the first set of Plans and having viewed the draft Plans for 2017-20, it is worrying that the current framework fails to set the best conditions to achieve national targets. "It is also clear that most of these Plans fail to reach the required standard and that there is a significant lack of clarity in terms of how Local Authorities will achieve the expected targets. "RhAG calls on the Welsh Government to respond robustly and urges the Minister to use the powers in his possession to reject all Plans which are below par. “A clear message must be conveyed that non-compliance is not acceptable, and the opportunity to turn national political consensus into actual developments on the ground during the second round of Plans must be grasped with both hands." End Notes RhAG is a national organisation which represents and supports parents who want their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh. www.rhag.net For more information please contact Ceri McEvoy, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Cross-party letter calls on Minister not to accept unambitious Plans
For the attention of: Alun Davies AM, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language Welsh in Education Strategic Plans, 2017-20 We are aware that you wrote in August 2016 to all Local Authorities in Wales to ask them to present new Welsh in Education Strategic Plans, to be approved by the Government. The LAs were given instruction from you on behalf of the Welsh Government to be ambitious, and to give attention, among other matters, to these: • The vision of the Welsh Government is to see a million Welsh speakers by 2050 • More children in Welsh medium education • If there are any Welsh medium schools within a 10% threshold of capacity or nearing this, note your plans to ensure that enough places will be available • When was an assessment of Welsh medium education held in accordance to the 2014 regulations? • How do you intend providing parents with information on the advantages of Welsh medium education in your LA? Other Government requirements include, among other matters, better continuity between the various education sectors, more pupils studying subjects through the medium of Welsh and providing a Welsh medium service for those with additional learning needs. RhAG has reviewed the Strategic Plans of all counties. Two or three are satisfactory, giving details of how Welsh medium education will grow. However, unfortunately, most Strategic Plans lack detail, are unambitious and disregard many of the Government’s requirements. Many of the Strategic Plans are descriptive – describing what has happened – rather than developmental. These are, generally, the weaknesses: • Very few give details of how the LAs will provide more places for Welsh medium education • There is very little information on how LAs will provide information to parents on the advantages of Welsh medium education • There is almost no mention of Welsh medium schools which are full, or within 10% of capacity • There is little mention of measuring the demand for Welsh medium education, and we know that LAs disregard Government instruction on how to measure this • There is scant mention of the Government’s vision to see the swift growth of Welsh medium education. The Plans in their present form do not ‘strengthen and increase the availability of Welsh medium education’ and they do not display the ambition called for by the Welsh Government. A new cycle of challenging, adventurous and innovative plans are needed, which put promoting Welsh medium education at the heart of planning future provision. In view of this, we call on you not to accept these unambitious plans, and to ask Local Authorities to re-write. We look forward to your response. Yours, Llyr Huws Gruffydd AM Jeremy Miles AM Darren Millar AM
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A critical day for Welsh-medium education in Newport
RhAG has called on Newport City Council Planning Committee to give their backing for a new Welsh-medium secondary school to be built at the Duffryn High School site, which would open in September 2017. Today the committee will consider the submitted planning application, however the LAs planning officer has recommended that the application be refused on the basis of views submitted by National Resources Wales which refer to guidelines set out in Technical Advice Note 15 (TAN 15), which states that the risk and consequences of flooding cannot be managed on the site. In a letter to all members of the Planning Committee Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said, "The proposed new Welsh-medium secondary school represents a solution which is crucial not only in terms of the statutory duties and responsibilities of the Local Authority, but also in terms of the commitment, hopes and expectations of pupils, parents and families, both in Newport and South Monmouthshire. The decision taken by Cabinet in July 2015 signified a historic day in the development of Welsh-medium education in Newport. Indeed, the new school is important not only in terms of its impact on the development of Welsh-medium education in the authority, but also the positive effect on the vitality of the Welsh language in the immediate area, the wider region and indeed within South East Wales. The growth of Welsh-medium education in Newport has been a tremendous success story; this development represents the next chapter in that story and will provide the seamless transition needed to offer parity of opportunity for all Newport pupils, to have a local education of the highest standard. Any decision taken not to proceed with the new Welsh-medium school on the Duffryn site would have major and extremely serious consequences. Without this new school, Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw will be oversubscribed in 2016 and delays to opening the school will undermine local authorities commitment and statutory responsibility to provide local Welsh-medium education. An increasing number of pupils are having to travel out of county to access secondary Welsh-medium education, and this at a significant cost to the authority. There would also be an adverse effect on Duffryn High School, which will lose out on significant and much needed investment as part of the overall development. Parents of children in Newport and South Monmouthshire have already endured significant uncertainty about Welsh-medium provision for their children starting secondary school in September 2016. The announcement of the new school, election of a governing body and appointment of a head teacher had allayed these fears - despite the proposal to locate the school in temporary accommodation for one year. The 80 children who have applied to start at the new school in September 2016 deserve a permanent and safe site for their school. Time is now of the essence. We strongly urge the local authority to approve this application, subject to working with the relevant agencies to ensure that adaptive measures are taken to mitigate any risk, and that a robust flood management and evacuation plan is in place as a matter of urgency; for the benefit of the school communities at Duffryn High School, the new Welsh-medium school and the wider community as a whole. Newport City Council will be breaking new ground with the opening of this new school, this precious opportunity cannot and must not be lost. Notes The proposal is the culmination of years of extensive and painstaking work on a regional basis which has finally led to this critical point in the planning and delivery of the proposed new school. The partnership working between Newport and Monmouthshire, has been granted a significant amount of match funding from the Welsh Governments capital funding programme 21st Century Schools which is a clear sign of the Welsh Governments confidence in the development. The new school also represents a fundamental element of Newport City Councils Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), a statutory document ratified by Welsh Government, which demonstrates the authoritys commitment to the continued growth of Welsh-medium education within its boundaries.
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A missed opportunity for the Welsh language and ALN
Welsh-medium provision should be a core element of the Welsh Governments proposed new legislation for Additional Learning Needs and not a marginal consideration which it is at present. This is a call being made by Welsh teachers union UCAC (Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru) and Parents for Welsh-medium education (RhAG) in response to the consultation on the Draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill, which closes on December 18th. Furthermore the organisations maintain that language should be recognised as a fundamental need and enshrined as a basic principle on the face of the Bill, thus establishing the right to choose and access provision and support services in Welsh. Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said, "The Welsh Governments national policy is to increase opportunities to access Welsh-medium education by expanding the provision. While there has been growth in Welsh medium and bilingual education, there is no evidence of similar growth in the provision for children and young people with additional educational needs. "It is astonishing that such key issues relating to the Welsh language are missing in the Bill and its accompanying documents. Any efforts to establish a system that is more inclusive and holistic in its approach through these legislative proposals, is immediately undermined due to a lack of recognition of the linguistic context in Wales. "We believe that drafting new and much needed legislation in this area provides an opportunity to set a baseline that would establish the principle of a right for pupils with additional learning difficulties to access provision in accordance with the language preference of the parent. We call on the Government not to waste this opportunity, by re-examining the current draft to ensure that Welsh-medium ALN provision ceases to be based on a postcode lottery." Elaine Edwards, UCAC's General Secretary said "We are shocked and disappointed that the draft Bill fails to make a single reference to the Welsh language. Consequently, the Bill in its current form stands no chance of tackling the systemic problems in terms of Welsh-medium provision that face children and young people with Additional Learning Needs. "Although there is much to welcome in the Bill, it will not be possible for UCAC to give the draft legislation its backing unless there is acknowledgement of the fundamental principle of equal treatment for the English and Welsh languages." end
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Assembly Committee recommendations on WM Education welcomed
RhAG has welcomed the Children, Young People and Education Assembly Committee report on Welsh in Education Strategic Plans published today. Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said, "This report summarizes RhAGs main concerns and highlights a number of the major weaknesses in the present system. All of the recommendations are positive and are truly welcomed. We are grateful to the Committee for giving serious consideration to evidence presented by stakeholders and reflecting this fully in the report. "RhAG believes that current arrangements for promoting and supporting Welsh-medium education is not sufficient. Although local authorities have to produce and submit Welsh in Education Strategic Plans, however these plans have no real teeth. Many local authorities are slow to respond to demand which means that growth is very slow at the moment. Therefore strengthening the existing planning system is absolutely essential in order to accelerate growth across Wales and it will be good to see swift action taken to promote Welsh-medium education in accordance with the recommendations of this report. "We look forward to receiving the Education Ministers response in due course as well as collaboration, which is both thorough and robust, between the Government and LEAs in the future." end
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Manifesto launched to expand Welsh-medium education
50% of pupils aged 7 years old should be in Welsh-medium education by 2030. This is one of the main calls made by RhAG as they launch their manifesto for the National Assembly of Wales elections this week. A language for our country, a language for our schools, identifies the main priorities of the organisation for the development and expansion of Welsh-medium education by the next Welsh Government. The event held at 6pm on Tuesday November 24 at Tŷ Hywel, Cardiff Bay has gained cross-party support from Suzy Davies AM, Keith Davies AM, Aled Roberts AM & Simon Thomas AM. Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chair said, "We welcome the opportunity to outline our thinking as an organisation for the accelerated growth of Welsh-medium education across Wales. RhAG believes that the current arrangements for promoting and supporting Welsh-medium education is not sufficient. Although local authorities have to introduce Welsh in Education Strategic Plans, these plans have no real teeth. Many local authorities continue to avoid their responsibility and to undermine the aims and objectives of the Government's Welsh-medium Education Strategy. A language for our country, a language for our schools details the main areas requiring urgent attention, which include: measuring parental demand, accelerating growth in the pre-school and primary sector, increasing Flying Start provision, marketing Welsh-medium education and transport. Tackling these issues means that setting a target of 50% of children age 7 in Welsh-medium education by 2030 is not only realistic but achievable. So that we ensure quick and decisive progress, RhAG also calls for formulating a Welsh Medium Education Bill during the next Assembly term to strengthen the existing legislative infrastructure. At present all relevant legislation is fragmented, inadequate or incorporated into other laws. In many respects no legislation exists at all. RhAG recommends drawing up a new Bill which would cover a range of needs in the field by drawing together all current legislative threads and offer unambiguous legal clarity in the future. Suzy Davies AM said, The future growth of Welsh language education depends on getting it right in the education system. I am looking forward to hearing what ideas RhAG have to help with this. Keith Davies AM added, "I welcome the announcement of RhAGs manifesto. We have a responsibility to maintain the Welsh language as a living language and as a language for living. The best way to do this is to promote Welsh language education." Said Simon Thomas AM, "I am delighted to sponsor the event. Plaid believes it is necessary to ensure that every child receives education along the language spectrum, including part of it through the medium of Welsh and access to Welsh-medium education in the Foundation Phase. Aled Roberts AM reiterated, "It is a privilege to sponsor the launch of RhAGs manifesto as we move towards the Assembly elections. Parental input will be important as we plan for the future development of Welsh-medium education." end Notes You can find a copy of the manifesto here: http://www.rhag.net/dogfennau/maniffesto_Rhag_2015_Saesneg_terfynol.pdf For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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A golden opportunity to transform Welsh-medium education in Powys
RhAG has written to all Cabinet Members on Powys Council urging them to adopt the principle that designated Welsh schools (category 2A) is the preferred model in the delivery of Welsh secondary education in Powys. This comes as the Cabinet convenes tomorrow to discuss, among other matters, (i) An independent report by Sbectrwm Consultancy relating to a review of Secondary Education in North Powys, with a focus on Welsh-medium Education / dual streams & (ii) The future of the Welsh stream at Brecon High School Here is the letter in full: Dear Councillor I am writing to you as a member of Powys Council's Cabinet before you assemble tomorrow to discuss issues of exceptional importance in relation to the development of Welsh-medium Education in the county. This relates specifically to the following: A review of Secondary Education in North Powys focusing on Welsh-medium Education / dual streams The Welsh stream at Brecon High School On behalf of parents and RhAG members in Powys and in accordance with the recommendations of the Spectrum Consultancy report, we urge you to adopt the principle that designated Welsh-medium schools (category 2A) is the preferred model in terms of delivering Welsh-medium secondary education in Powys. Ensuring equality and parity of opportunity and a genuine choice for families who want their children to receive a comprehensive secondary education through the medium of Welsh depends entirely on this. For some time, it has become clear that the current system is unsustainable, in educational, linguistic and financial terms. As it stands, the system does not provide equal opportunities for Powys pupils to receive a comprehensive secondary education through the medium of Welsh, at present, pupils must travel out-of-county to access such provision. In the south of the county an increasing number of pupils must embark on such a journey: this cannot be an acceptable situation. In the face of plans to make substantial investments to transform the English-medium sector in Powys, an equally far-reaching vision is needed in terms of Welsh-medium education. This is a golden opportunity to transform Welsh-medium provision in Powys for the better. Establishing the first ever designated Welsh-medium secondary schools in Powys would break the existing vicious cycle and transform the current landscape in terms of Welsh-medium education throughout the county, in line with Welsh Government expectations to strengthen and increase bilingualism in Wales. RhAG has already publicly expressed its opinion on this, detailing the need for more than one school to realise this vision. Ysgol Bro Hyddgen has more or less developed over the years into a Welsh-medium school, and so the next natural step would be to formalize that arrangement. The most logical location for a Welsh-medium school to serve the north east of the county based on provision as it now stands - is Llanfair Caereinion, with the current level of Welsh language provision and its central geographic location making it a sensible and practical proposal. Similarly, there is a need for parity of provision in the south of the county, by ensuring that Builth Wells offers a full range of Welsh-medium courses, and the establishment of a cross county agreement for those wishing to continue their education through the medium of Welsh, especially in terms of post 16 provision, so that they can continue to travel to Welsh-medium schools in neighbouring counties. Consolidation of WM provision at Builth would offer the best chance of achieving this. In the face of significant budgetary constraints, the time has come for Elected Members to take those hard decisions which are necessary to make fundamental changes to the provision of education in Powys for the next quarter of a century. There is no denying the gravity of the task and the tremendous responsibility which rests on your shoulders - the responsibility to provide a real level playing field for all children and young people across the county and to allow more pupils the ability to access the full and well-known benefits of Welsh-medium education here in Powys. This is a golden opportunity to transform Welsh medium provision in Powys for the better. Welsh Government's national policy - which has been incorporated into the national Welsh-medium Education Strategy - sets a goal of improving and increasing continuity between key stages, and particularly between primary and secondary. It also set a goal of increasing the number of 7 year old children who are educated through the medium of Welsh. Taking decisive action in the secondary sector would have a positive impact on this and allow Powys Council to reach national targets set by Welsh Government. You will be aware that commitments have been made in the councils statutory Welsh in Education Strategic Plan 2014-17 to make progress on this issue: it is now time to act and deliver. Establishing designated Welsh-medium schools therefore is a key element of the Councils strategic forward planning and an indispensable foundation stone in terms of the wider development of Welsh-medium education in Powys. There can be no justification for any further delay, which would deprive another generation of Powys pupils of the basic opportunities available to the majority of their peers in the rest of Wales. Both demand and need is unquestionable: adequate provision should now be established to acknowledge this. This is a golden opportunity to transform Welsh medium provision in Powys for the better. For the above reasons, therefore we call on you to support the recommendations under your consideration tomorrow and to prioritise the welfare and interests of the children and young people in Powys above all else. We call on you to honor the faith and trust entrusted in you by parents and pupils in your roles as advocates and representatives of the communities of Powys. We call on you to embrace a far-reaching vision for the growth of Welsh-medium Education and the long-term future of the Welsh language in this County. The opportunity is within your grasp. With thanks in advance for taking the time to consider our comments. Ceri Owen On behalf of Parents for Welsh-medium Education (RhAG) end Notes Agenda, reports and background papers for the meeting: http://www.powys.gov.uk/cy/democratiaeth/dyddiadur-cyfarfodydd-a-phwyllgoraur-cyngor/?membs2%5Bformname%5D=meeting_form&membs2%5BmeetingId%5D=2015-09-29c1 For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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WM education in Cardiff: alarm bells ringing
Serious concerns that a starter class for Grangetown and Butetown will not open as promised this September is an indication of wider failures by Cardiff Council in the planning of Welsh-medium education provision across the city. This is RhAGs response to concerns of local parents that the Council will not keep their promise to open the starter class hosted at Ninian Park School, as a seedling of the new school which is proposed to open on a permanent site in 2017. On the basis of Council figures for July, RhAG is aware that 105 pupils were refused first choice applications for a place in the citys Welsh-medium primary schools. It is unclear how many children have been lost to the English-medium sector, nor how many are still in the appeals system. This represents a loss of 13% of all applications for the Welsh-medium September 2015 Reception intake. The loss for September 2014 was approximately 5%. Said Michael Jones for Cardiff RhAG, "Warning bells should now be ringing as many problems can be found throughout the city. In the East, between Bro Eirwg and Penypil 13 children have been unable to obtain a place without another nearby school a practical possibility. Glan Morfa has been turning pupils away for 3 years and more, and the same situation has arisen this year with 5 application refused. In the North, the situation at Mynydd Bychan (19 refused) is unacceptable and the Wern, at 75 applications cannot meet the demand with 3 pupils not being offered a place. The applications for Melin Gruffydd is 7 over their Standard Admission Number and Pencae at 21 applications over their SAN. In the West there is an urgent need to do something for Nant Caerau and Treganna is packed with 16 applications above their statutory number. "We need immediate action by extending current provision as an interim solution and to open new schools to meet the demand. Honoring the commitment to open a starter class to serve Grangetown and Butetown is an indispensable part of the Council's plans to develop Welsh-medium education in the city, as has been incorporated into Cardiff Councils statutory Welsh in Education Strategic Plan, which has been approved by the Minister of Education. Although the council had announced their intention to proceed with the class, the fact that parents were not made known of this until May and arrangements not confirmed until August, meant it was all far too late; so the current crisis is the result of a lack of acting early enough which has weakened parents trust and confidence. The current administration needs to restore this by taking control of the situation and providing firm and proactive action as a matter of urgency. "In addition, we call on the Council to conduct an urgent city-wide review of the catchment areas for Welsh medium schools and a thorough review of the school admissions process in order to provide greater fairness, clarity and certainty for parents in applying for places in Welsh-medium schools." end
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Welsh-medium Secondary Schools in Powys: a golden opportunity
This will be the topic of discussion at RhAGs Annual Public Meeting at the National Eisteddfod in Meifod this year. The session will be held at 12 pm on Wednesday, August 5. Chaired by Dr Hywel Glyn Lewis from the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, the speakers will include Aled Morgan Hughes on behalf of True Bilingualism for All a campaign by local residents who are in favor of establishing designated Welsh-medium secondary schools in Powys and Elin Maher, from RhAG Casnewydd, who will share the experiences of the successful campaign to establish Newports first Welsh-medium comprehensive, due to open in September 2016. RhAG has already called on Powys County Council to include firm plans to establish Welsh-medium designated secondary schools as a principle underpinning the current review to reorganize secondary education in the county. Recommendations regarding this will be presented to the Cabinet in September. Said Ceri Owen on behalf of RhAG, "Powys is one of the few counties that remains without a Welsh-medium secondary school. So in light of plans to make a substantial investment to transform the English-medium sector in Powys, the same far-reaching vision is needed in terms of Welsh-medium provision. Establishing the first ever designated Welsh-medium secondary schools in Powys would break the existing vicious cycle and transform the current landscape in terms of Welsh-medium education throughout the county, in line with Welsh Government expectations to strengthen and increase bilingualism in Wales. This is a golden opportunity to transform Welsh-medium provision in Powys for the better. Maintaining the status quo is not a viable or sustainable option radical change for a more equitable solution for all is needed as a matter of urgency. end Notes Earlier statement released by RhAG: http://www.rhag.net/stori.php?iaith=eng&id=173 True Bilingualism for All: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009776593947&fref=ts&ref=br_tf For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Parents present petition to Cardiff Council
Action for Parents Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Caerau will present a petition to Cardiff Council today. The petition, signed by a 185 supporters, is calling for better investment in Welsh-medium education and an increase in the number of Welsh medium places to meet the growing demand in the Ely & Caerau area. Councillor Peter Bradbury, who represents Ely ward, will receive the petition on behalf of the parents and present it to the council. The group was established to campaign for improved resources and facilities at Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Caerau, the only Welsh-medium primary school serving the area. According to the 2011 Census Caerau and Ely had a combined population of 14,603 and yet there are only 30 Welsh medium places available. Said Sonia Holmes on behalf of the group, "This petition is a further step in our campaign to ensure fair play for Welsh-medium education in Ely and Caerau. The situation currently facing the school clearly shows that the Council has failed to respond proactively enough to the growing demand for Welsh-medium education in our area. We hope that they will listen to our concerns and act quickly. " end Notes The Action Group was set up in response to Cardiff Councils inaction in terms of adequately investing in the building - previously an Infants School - to meet the needs of a fully operational school for 3 11 yr olds. The school was opened in 2007, originally in empty classrooms in Holy Family School Pentrebane before moving to the current site in 2010. The group have written to Cllr Sarah Merry, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills citing three main areas of concern and inviting her to take time to visit the school and see the issues faced for herself. The matters highlighted are: Provide adequate provision for the 21 children who were refused a Reception place for September 2015 Put right the existing inadequacies in the facilities and resources available to the school Increase and expand the number of Welsh-medium school places in the local area
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Historic milestone for Welsh-medium Education in Newport
RhAG (Parents for Welsh-medium Education) and local parents have welcomed Newport City Councils cabinet decision today to give the go-ahead on plans to open the authoritys first Welsh-medium Secondary School. This comes following an unanimous decision at an extraordinary meeting convened to discuss two objections received during the consultation period. The new school, which is a partnership between 17m Newport City Council, Monmouthshire County Council and the Welsh Government, will be located on the land of Duffryn High School, in the southwest of the city, and will accept 90 pupils in September 2016. Elin Maher, a local parent and chair of RhAG Newport, "Newport City Council's decision today is the culmination of decades of campaigning, educating and hard work. Parents, teachers and officials have contributed to the realization of this decision. At last, we will now have a local Welsh-medium Secondary School for our children. " Added Lynne Davies, a local parent and chairman of RhAG "This long-awaited decision is warmly welcomed today. Whilst Welsh-medium education is under threat or falling behind in other areas, it is significant that the South East is leading the way. This marks a new and exciting period for the Welsh language in this area, where the linguistic challenges are plentiful, and yet despite this, significant progress is being made. Today is indisputable proof of that. "
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Calls for creation of a Welsh-medium Education Bill
RhAG has called for a Welsh-medium Education Bill to be drawn up during the next Assembly term to strengthen the current legislative framework. The call is central to evidence given by RhAG as the organization appears before members of the Assemblys Children, Young People and Education Committee tomorrow. RhAG would wish that the following areas be prioritized in any new legislation: Acting on the findings of surveys to measure parental demand within a reasonable period of time Linguistic continuity: to prevent pupils slipping from Welsh first language to second language. Effective implementation of the planning of Welsh-medium education. This includes delivering on promises made by all LAs in their Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESPs) Ensuring that no LA can act in a way which dilutes or weakens existing provision. Establish a system of redress or where LAs are held to account for any failure to fulfill their duty or commitment(s) in the WESPs A declaration which provides assurances of free transport to the nearest Welsh-medium school for pupils aged 3-18 Ensure that all relevant Welsh Government policy areas co-ordinate and are fully integrated with the aims of the Welsh-medium Education Strategy e.g. Flying Start, Families First, Communities First etc. Setting specific targets for training, recruitment and increasing the workforce Said Lynne Davies, National Chairperson, "RhAG believes that further steps are needed to strengthen the statutory planning system. Currently all legislation relating to the field is fragmented, inadequate or embedded in other laws. In many respects no legislation exists at all. RhAG recommends drawing up a comprehensive Welsh-medium Education Bill which would bring together all the strands of existing legislation and would offer unequivocal legal clarity in the future on all matters relating to Welsh-medium Education. Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development added, "We have a new system in the Welsh in Education Strategic Plans but which currently have no real teeth. Too many Local Authorities continue to act in ways that undermine the aims and objectives of the Government's Welsh-medium Education Strategy; indeed it could be argued that the new regime has failed to prevent any of that thus far. This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency if we are to achieve the growth targets of the Strategy, which is 30% of 7 year olds receiving their education through the medium of Welsh by 2020. Strong and robust legislation would set a strong foundation for making this a reality. "
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Concern for the future of Welsh-medium Education in RCT
Statement from RhAG RCT: "We are very concerned about the future of Welsh-medium education in Rhondda Cynon Taf following the publication of the 'Home to School Transport Consultation.' "As Council figures show, 1,582 children travel to a Welsh medium primary school, compared with the 282 children who travel to English medium primary schools. 93% of the children affected by the new proposals receive Welsh medium education. As only 20% of the countys children are in Welsh medium schools, the facts speak for themselves that this policy is completely unjust. The proposals would place a financial burden on those parents choosing Welsh medium education. Each child is in primary school for eight years and therefore this is a substantial financial commitment. Every local authority in Wales has the duty to promote Welsh-medium education. This is the policy of the Labour Welsh Government. The Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 states that each local authority must promote access to education and training through the medium of the Welsh language. The council therefore is recommending taking action which contradicts this law entirely by making it more difficult to opt for Welsh medium education. It would also undermine RCTs Welsh in Education Strategic Plan which imposes a statutory responsibility on the authority to increase the number of pupils being educated through the medium of Welsh. "We ask the Council to withdraw these unjust proposals."
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Powys Secondary Education: radical plans needed for Welsh-medium Education
Proposals for the reorganisation of secondary education in Powys should include concrete plans to establish designated Welsh-medium secondary schools and this should be an unequivocal principal which underpins the whole review. This is the call made by RhAG in response to the North Powys Secondary Review and the formal consultation on the closure of the Welsh-medium stream at Brecon High School which are part of a wider exercise to reorganize secondary school provision across the county. RhAG have specified that reorganization should include designated Welsh-medium schools in Machynlleth and Llanfair Caereinion and assurances of a comprehensive Welsh-medium provision in Builth Wells to ensure genuine parity of choice and opportunity for pupils who wish to receive their secondary education through the medium of Welsh. Said Ceri Owen on behalf of RhAG, "It has become clear for some time that the current system is neither educationally or financially sustainable. It does not provide equal opportunities for pupils in Powys to receive a full secondary education through the medium of Welsh as they must travel out of county to access such provision at the moment. So in light of plans to make a substantial investment to transform the English-medium sector in Powys, the same far-reaching vision is needed in terms of Welsh-medium provision. We would argue that this is a golden opportunity to transform Welsh-medium provision in Powys for the better. "Establishing the first ever designated Welsh-medium secondary schools in Powys would break the existing vicious cycle and transform the current landscape in terms of Welsh-medium education throughout the county, in line with Welsh Government expectations to strengthen and increase bilingualism in Wales. Ysgol Bro Hyddgen has more or less developed over the years into a Welsh-medium school, and so the next natural step would be to formalize that arrangement. The most logical location for a Welsh-medium school to serve the north east of the county based on provision as it now stands - is Llanfair Caereinion, with the current level of Welsh language provision and its central geographic location making it a sensible and practical proposal. "Similarly, there is a need for parity of provision in the south of the county, by ensuring that Builth Wells offers a full range of Welsh-medium courses, and the establishment of a cross county agreement for those wishing to continue their education through the medium of Welsh, especially in terms of post 16 provision, so that they can continue to travel to Welsh-medium schools in neighboring counties. Consolidation of WM provision at Builth would offer the best chance of achieving this. "In the face of significant budgetary constraints, the time has come for Elected Members to bite the bullet and to take those hard decisions which are necessary to make fundamental changes to the provision of education in Powys for the next generation. There is no denying the gravity of the task and the tremendous responsibility which rests on their shoulders - the responsibility to give all children and young people a fair and equal chance based on linguistic choice. For too long Powys has lagged behind on this issue and has consequently failed families and pupils for many years. Commitments have now been made in the councils statutory Welsh in Education Strategic Plan 2014-17 to make progress on this issue: it is now time to act and deliver. To continue with the status quo cannot be a viable and sustainable option radical change for a more equitable solution for all is needed as a matter of urgency.
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Parents set-up Action Group to campaign for WM education
Parents in Caerau and Ely have come together to establish an Action Group to campaign for improved resources and facilities at Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Caerau, the areas only Welsh-medium primary school. This comes in light of the Cardiff Councils inaction in terms of adequately investing in a building - previously an Infants School - to meet the needs of a fully operational school for 3 11 yr olds. The school was opened in 2007, originally in empty classrooms in Holy Family School Pentrebane before moving to the current site in 2010. They have written to Cllr Sarah Merry, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills citing three main areas of concern and inviting her to take time to visit the school and see the issues faced for herself. The matters highlighted are: Provide adequate provision for the 21 children who were refused a Reception place for September 2015 Put right the existing inadequacies in the facilities and resources available to the school Increase and expand the number of Welsh-medium school places in the local area Said Sonia Holmes on behalf of Action for Parents Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Caerau, Ysgol Nant Caerau is a wonderful success story and demonstrates the huge appetite for Welsh-medium education in the area. However the current situation facing the school also clearly shows that the Council has failed to react to the growing demand for Welsh Medium School places in the area proactively enough. We realise that it is a time of constrained budgets, however the basic needs of the school are currently not being met Nant Caerau were left having to purchase its own furniture for their classrooms yet other schools appear to be obtaining funding for brand new buildings. There is insufficient classroom space and the available land is inadequate for sporting activities. This cannot be deemed fair or right. We believe that the needs of our children are not being met and feel extremely let down by the Council. We are not asking for anything more than to be given a level playing field. Parents are now coming together to stand up and say that this situation is no longer acceptable. Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development added, RhAG has been calling on Cardiff Council to act for quite some time, in line with its statutory responsibilities enshrined within their Welsh in Education Strategic Plan 2014-17. There has been a complete lack of correlation between the numbers of parents wishing to access Welsh-medium Education, compared to the number of places provided for the last 3 years. This year alone 21 children were refused a first preference Reception place for September 2015. Demand is clearly outstripping supply however nothing seems to be done to address the situation. Ely & Caerau had a combined population of 14,603 in the 2011 Census and yet the area is only provided with 30 Welsh-medium places. There are a number of planned housing developments in the area, which is certain to further increase demand, however all Welsh-medium schools in the wider vicinity are at full capacity. How is Cardiff Council proposing to respond? RhAG will be supporting the parents until their voices are heard and decisive action taken to remedy the situation.
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Opportunity and responsibility: the future of WM education in Denbighshire
RhAG Denbighshire has called on Denbighshire County Council cabinet members to refuse to support a proposal by Councillor Eryl Williams, Lead Member for Education to close Pentrecelyn and Llanfair DC schools and establish a new Category 2 (bilingual) area school. This comes as the cabinet meets tomorrow (Tuesday, June 2) to discuss a report summarizing the findings of a formal consultation on the future of the two schools. RhAG has already argued that any reorganization represents a golden opportunity to establish a new Welsh-medium Category 1 school which could promote the bilingual skills of all pupils in the area. Elfed Williams, Chairman of Denbighshire RhAG, said: "The Welsh Governments Welsh-medium Education Strategy (2010) recognizes the importance of Welsh-medium schools in creating a bilingual country. Welsh-medium schools is the only school model in Wales which consistently introduces high language skills in both Welsh and English to all pupils. Unfortunately the proposal concerned is not likely to achieve this goal. "With 100% of pupils of Pentrecelyn and 70% of pupils from Llanfair currently receiving their education through the medium of Welsh, there is a truly robust case for establishing a new Category 1 school, with no justification for establishing a new bilingual school with two streams. In accordance with the countys desire to strengthen and develop bilingualism, adhering to Welsh Government guidelines, it is clear that if both schools were amalgamated, that it is only a Welsh-medium Category 1 model which would contribute towards all pupils attaining full skills in both languages. Maintaining an English-medium stream would be a retrograde decision and would serve only to dilute the linguistic provision. "This proposal not only conflicts with the position of parents and activists but also militates against the logic, evidence, recommendations of language planning experts and national policy of the Welsh Government. A policy which Denbighshire County Council has subscribed to in their statutory Welsh in Education Strategic Plan which aims to expand and increase opportunities to access Welsh-medium education. " Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development, "A tremendous responsibility rests on the shoulders of Denbighshire County Council cabinet members, not only in respect of the education of children living in Pentrecelyn and Llanfair, but also in terms of the future of the Welsh language in the county as a whole. In light of the reduction in the number of Welsh-speakers in Denbighshire as seen in the 2011 Census figures, the significance of the education system in terms of the language skills of school-age children is more important than ever. Establishing a Welsh-medium Category 1 area school is the only solution that can ensure fairness and equality to the majority. Failure to teach both languages thoroughly to all pupils will mean that some children i.e. those without the presence of the Welsh language at home - in effect will be disadvantaged throughout their lives, as Wales moves towards becoming a truly bilingual country. "We trust that elected members will grasp this precious opportunity tomorrow and vote with a view to what is not only just but also logical in the long term. End Notes For further information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Calls for cabinet members to rectify secondary education plan
Assurances must be made of a more robust and detailed financial investment in Neath Port Talbot Councils plan to establish a new Welsh-medium secondary school in Port Talbot. This is the call being made by RhAG in a letter to all cabinet members as they prepare to discuss a post consultation report on the proposal on April 22. In the letter the organisation lists a substantial number of concerns expressed by local parents, with a specific call for a commitment by the council to identify the actual intended expenditure to update, improve and upgrade the building and facilities, before the outlined plan can be accepted. Kelvin Edwards said on behalf of RhAG NPT, " The fundamental principle of developing Welsh-medium provision in the County is to be welcomed, but many elements of the plan in its current form is flawed, ambiguous or inadequate. We are calling for any proposed investment in the Welsh-medium school to be equivalent to what will be spent on the brand new English-medium super-school nearby. What is paramount is that there is parity in both schools ability to provide an education of the highest quality. The standard of resources should not be compromised; pupils should receive exactly the same opportunities whatever the language medium of their education. We can support the current plan to the extent that it ensures better resources for Welsh-medium education, and so assurances in respect of the funding is crucial. There must not be any discrimination in this regard, and that message must be communicated to parents clearly and unambiguously. " Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development said, " This issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency, so that parents are given a fair offer that will motivate them to choose a Welsh-medium secondary education for their children. The Authority must take the parents with them every step of the way, and by doing so will allay any fears and gain their confidence as they entrust their children in the new school. Providing assurances of full and adequate investment as well as fleshing out the plan as a whole is absolutely essential in order to alleviate these concerns and to establish a strong foundation for the new school so that it flourishes from the outset. "In discussing the report we hope that cabinet members give serious consideration to these issues and ensure that they are addressed in full before proceeding to publish the statutory notice. " End Notes For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net Copy of letter below: Dear Councillor We write to you as a Cabinet Member of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, before the next meeting is convened on 22 April, to discuss the post consultation report in relation to a proposal to establish an all-through school providing Welsh-medium education for pupils aged 3-18 in the north of the County Borough and aged 11-16 in the south of the County Borough. RhAG is an organisation which exists to support and promote education through the medium of Welsh and to ensure equal opportunities for parents who want their children to be taught through the medium of Welsh. You might be aware that, the Welsh Government provides an annual grant to support the work of RhAG throughout Wales. Government policy, under the leadership of Labour, is to ensure that all local authorities provide appropriate provision for the increasing growth in Welsh medium education in line with the Welsh-medium Education Strategy (April 2010). We wish to share with you some genuine concerns expressed by local parents and members of RhAG NPT in relation to certain aspects of the proposal. We appreciate the Councils effort to solve some problems facing Welsh-medium education in the area, in particular: Buildings of poor condition on the site of Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera Old buildings on the site of Ysgol y Wern Reducing travel from the south to the north of the borough to access Welsh-medium education We welcome the proposal to establish an 11-18 school on the Ystalyfera site with resources fit for the 21st Century. We are concerned to note that Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera has been receiving around 700 less per pupil than the average for secondary schools in the County. We would like to see an explanation of how this new plan will make up for this past shortfall in Welsh-medium secondary provision in the Authority. The plan states that the objective of the reorganisation is to strengthen Welsh-medium education in the county by: Increasing numbers Improving transition numbers from KS2 to KS3 Increasing numbers Neath Port Talbot has one of the weakest performances in Wales in terms of increasing numbers in Welsh-medium education. This is due to the LA having failed to establish a single new Welsh-medium primary school during its existence, in contrast to other LAs in South Wales. This reorganisation plan does not acknowledge this and doesnt make provisions for the establishment of new Welsh-medium primary schools in the populated areas of the county. This alone will ensure the growth of Welsh-medium education in the county and guarantee the success of the two Welsh-medium secondary schools. Improving transition from KS2 to KS3 We are also aware that Neath Port Talbot has one of the weakest performances in Wales in terms of primary-secondary transition rates. We accept that this plan is likely to lead to better continuity between KS2 and KS3, but wont completely resolve the current challenges faced, as the Authority is yet to overcome some problems which still exist in the north of the county. The plan also does not completely convince us that the reorganization will improve post 16 transition rates. The travel distances for pupils in the south of the county will continue under the new scheme. We are genuinely concerned that the plan in its current form will lead to a reduction in the number of children who transfer from Welsh-medium education in Year 7 in the short term. Currently the transition figures for the 3 Welsh-medium primary schools in the south of county are strong, but we strongly suspect that the current numbers are likely to fall. The LA wants to see the new school in Sandfields established under a single management with Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera. The only justification for this, it seems, is that the LA has failed to sufficiently develop Welsh-medium education to establish a new independent 11-18 or 3-18 school in the south. Neighboring counties across South Wales have developed new secondary schools as part of plans to reorganise Welsh-medium education. A new secondary school was established in Swansea East and since then 3 new Welsh-medium primary schools have opened, one in the west of Swansea and 2 in the east of Swansea. A new WM secondary school has been established in Bridgend and Cardiff has opened its third WM secondary school. The pattern seen in these counties presents a model that has worked successfully, and it is therefore difficult to justify the experimental model in Neath Port Talbot. The current proposal appears to as much about cost savings as it is the development of education in the LA. We believe that the council needs to identify the intended expenditure on the building before the offer presented can be accepted. This should include details on the basis of: (I) Updating the external framework of the building (Ii) Updating, improving and upgrading the building internally (Ii) Providing the latest resources, in accordance with expected 21st Century standards. (Iii) Changes to the site, i.e. parking, fences, etc. One absolutely essential element is to compare the expenditure on the new English medium school and the Welsh medium school. Investment in both projects must be comparable to ensure that both schools can provide an education of the highest quality. It is only fair to acknowledge parents failure to understand the duality of this situation, where their children will be taught in buildings that are currently sub-standard, but where there is an intention to open a brand new English medium school housed in a magnificent building not far from that site. Quality and standards must not be compromised; pupils should receive exactly the same opportunities whatever the language medium of their education. We can only support the current plan to the extent that it secures better resources for Welsh-medium education and so an uncompromising assurance in respect of the allocated funding is crucial. There must not be any discrimination in this regard, and that message needs to be communicated to parents clearly and unequivocally. We strongly believe that the school in the south should develop over time into an independent school. It should be set up temporarily as a 11-16 school, as outlined in the current proposal, but should then become an independent 11-18 school as Welsh-medium primary education in the county is developed. This approach needs to be clearly identified from the outset. Given the need for the development of Welsh-medium education in the county as a whole, it is necessary, in our view, that the proposal includes a commitment to establish new Welsh-medium primary schools which will lead to a positive growth in the Welsh-medium sector. The plan should note that the new school will develop into an independent 11-18 school in 11-18 as the numbers increase based on the expansion of Welsh-medium primary education. We therefore suggest that 2 new primary schools are required in the area - in Llandarcy and Neath - to increase the numbers that will feed the new school. A general lack of knowledge in relation to the plan is also causing concern to a number of parents. There are many questions on a range of fundamental issues which remain unanswered, these include: Admission Arrangements in terms of younger siblings of pupils already at Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera Transitional arrangements for pupils currently in Years 5 and 6. Transportation parents are worried that children living within 3 miles of the school will be expected to walk to school every morning. Again, there is some mention of a particular route, but no specific details on this. There is concern about how the bus / traffic will arrive at the school. We note that it is a community school which operates on the site at the moment without the need for buses arriving from afar. Resources and playgrounds The schedule for the renovation work on the Sandfields site, including transition arrangements of the children currently being educated on-site to enable builders to start their work Arrangements for the construction work once the new pupils are on-site in September 2016 Health and safety - there is a significant concern amongst parents that the site is unsafe for their children. Concerns about the safety of the site including vandalism, which has not been recognised as a problem until now. Provision of resources available to children with Additional Learning Difficulties Staff there is concern that the school is intended to be run by a headteacher also managing Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera, located 16 miles away. This raises practical concerns in terms of the ability of one person to carry out this heavy load of responsibilities coupled with the significant challenges that the geographical distance is likely to bring. There is also concern that no jobs have been advertised for the Welsh-medium secondary school, in contrast to the new English-medium school which already has a headteacher in post. The site is currently being used by many other agencies (including a charity called Strides and a private nursery). Will these agencies remain under the new arrangement? The ability to provide extra-curricular activities in the evening such as after school clubs, the Urdd etc. The LA has not managed to adequately address or answer the above questions during the consultation period. This has created a nervousness and anxiety amongst local parents and this lack of knowledge further feeds those fears. We believe that it is unfair to ask parents to accept an offer without providing the full facts. Several parents have stated that they would prefer to send their children to Ystalyfera (a journey of 16 miles) than the proposed new school. This statement militates against all the objectives of the intended proposal under consideration. We wish to emphasize that parents that arent rejecting Welsh-medium education but are expressing deep and serious reservations in relation to the proposed new school on the Sandfields site. In summary, we must stress again that the principle of developing Welsh-medium education in the LA is very welcome but that many elements of the plan in its current form is flawed, ambiguous or inadequate. These issues need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, so that parents are given a fair offer that will motivate them to choose a Welsh-medium secondary education for their children. The Authority must take the parents with them every step of the way, and by doing so will allay any fears and gain their confidence as they entrust their children in the new school. Providing assurances of full and adequate investment as well as fleshing out the plan as a whole is absolutely essential in order to alleviate these concerns and to establish a strong foundation for the new school so that it flourishes from the outset. Unfortunately, RhAG does not believe that the plan as it stands is acceptable; the LA must provide positive answers to the questions and concerns raised before we or local parents can accept the proposal. We trust that you will give serious consideration to the issues outlined above when discussing the report and ensure that full answers are provided before proceeding to publish the statutory notice. Regards NPT RhAG branch
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Powys Secondary Education: radical plans needed for WM Education
Proposals for the reorganisation of secondary education in Powys should include plans to establish designated Welsh-medium secondary schools in Machynlleth and Llanfair Caereinion and ensure a comprehensive Welsh-medium provision in Builth Wells, in order to ensure genuine parity of choice and opportunity for pupils who wish to receive their secondary education through the medium of Welsh. This is the call made by RhAG in response to the latest plans unveiled by Powys Council as they reorganize secondary schools in the county. Said Ceri Owen on behalf of RhAG, "It has became clear for some time that the current system is not educationally or financially sustainable; neither does it provide equal opportunities for pupils in Powys to receive a full secondary education through the medium of Welsh, pupils must travel out of county to access such provision at the moment. So in light of plans to make a substantial investment to transform the English-medium sector in Powys, the same far-reaching vision is needed in terms of Welsh-medium provision. "The establishment of Powys first designated Welsh-medium secondary schools would break the existing vicious cycle and transform the current landscape in terms of Welsh-medium education throughout the county, in line with Welsh Government expectations to strengthen bilingualism. Ysgol Bro Hyddgen has more or less developed over the years into a Welsh-medium school, and so the next natural step would be to formalize that arrangement. The most logical location for a Welsh-medium school to serve the north east of the county is Llanfair Caereinion, the current level of Welsh language provision and central geographic location makes it a sensible and practical proposal. "Similarly, there is a need for equal opportunities to be provided in the south of the county, by ensuring that Builth Wells offers a full range of Welsh-medium courses, and the establishment of a cross county agreement for those wishing to continue their education through the medium of Welsh, especially in terms of post 16 provision, so that they can continue to travel to Welsh-medium schools in neighboring counties. "In the face of significant budgetary constraints, the time has now come for Powys councillors to bite the bullet by taking the hard decisions which are necessary to make fundamental changes to the provision of education in Powys for the next generation. There is no denying the gravity of the task and the tremendous responsibility which rests on their shoulders - the responsibility to give the children and young people across Powys a fair chance. End For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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A golden opportunity to strengthen the Welsh language in Denbighshire
This is the call being voiced by the Denbighshire RhAG branch in its response to the Pentrecelyn and Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd school reorganisation consultation which ends on Monday 16 March. RhAG argues that establishing a new Welsh-medium Category 1 school represents a golden example for the possibility of promoting the bilingual skills of all pupils in the area. This comes as RhAG prepares for a special meeting with LA officers to discuss the future of Pentrecelyn and Llanfair DC schools as part of a broader conversation about the countys vision for the Welsh language. Elfed Williams, Chairman of Denbighshire RhAG said, " We accept that the county has a desire to promote bilingualism, in accordance with Welsh Government objectives. The Welsh-medium Education Strategy (2010) recognises the importance of Welsh-medium schools in creating a bilingual country. Unfortunately the proposal concerned is not likely to achieve this goal. Welsh-medium schools is the only school model in Wales which consistently introduces high language skills in both Welsh and English to all pupils. "Due to the high percentage of Welsh-speakers currently in both schools, and the very small number without any Welsh, there is no justification for establishing a new bilingual two-stream school. In accordance with the countys desire to strengthen and develop bilingualism, adhering to Welsh Government guidelines, it is clear that if both schools were amalgamated, that it is only a Welsh-medium Category 1 model which would contribute towards all pupils attaining full skills in both languages. Maintaining an English-medium stream would be a retrograde decision. Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development said, "In light of the reduction in the number of Welsh-speakers in Denbighshire as seen in the 2011 Census figures, the importance of the education system in terms of the language skills of school-age children is more important than ever. The Council have attempted to respond to this by conducting a review of the Welsh language in the county, but it is disappointing that the report and the proposed recommendations have yet to see the light of day. We would also argue that this represents a fundamental inconsistency in terms of policy, with reference in Denbighshires Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) to the establishment of new Welsh-medium area schools in separate reorganisation plans and other schools being moved along the linguistic continuum, why is this therefore not the case in relation to the proposals for Ysgol Pentrecelyn and Llanfair DC? Elfed Williams added, "As far as we are concerned, there is no reason not to establish a Welsh-medium school rather than a bilingual school, in the amalgamation of the two schools, if this merger is taken forward. Failure to teach both languages thoroughly to all pupils will mean that some children i.e. those without the presence of the Welsh language at home - in effect will be disadvantaged throughout their lives, as Wales moves towards becoming a thoroughly bilingual country. " End Notes For further information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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A VISION FOR WM EDUCATION NEEDED: RESPONSE TO DONALDSON REPORT
Although the Donaldson Report recognises the contribution of Welsh-medium education, the report does not offer a vision for the role of Welsh-medium education in creating a bilingual country. This is RhAGs main conclusion in response to the report. Said Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development, "The Welsh Government has an aim of creating a bilingual country. Donaldson's report reads as if it were discussing Welsh as one subject among other subjects. Although it recognises the value of Welsh-medium schools, and wants to see more of a focus on their contribution in promoting good practice, the report does not offer a vision for the growth we have to see in Welsh-medium education. " "It is good to see the report recommending that the Welsh language needs to be developed in English-medium schools. The best way to do this is to use the language as a medium, the report however does not provide a way forward in this regard. " "As we and the Government discuss the Donaldson report, there needs to be a clear vision for the role of Welsh language in education as we create a bilingual Wales. For too long the schools of Wales were used as a way of killing the language. It is now time for them to become a vehicle for its revitalisation. " End Notes For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Denbighshire parents establish RhAG group
In a public meeting held at Ysgol Bro Cinmeirch, Llanrhaeadr on Wednesday February 4 local parents unanimously voted in favour of establishing a RhAG branch in Denbighshire. This comes in response to a series of misguided decisions by Denbighshire Council which will undoubtedly weaken the provision of Welsh-medium education in the county. Among the immediate concerns are plans to merge two primary schools in the Ruthin area, Ysgol Pentrecelyn, a Category 1 Welsh-medium School and Ysgol Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, a Category 2 Bilingual School. The Councils recommendation is to establish a new bilingual area school to serve the community. This follows the announcement that pupils living in the Prion, Saron and Llanrhaeadr areas will now have to attend their nearest suitable secondary school, Ysgol Uwchradd Brynhyfryd, which is a Bilingual Secondary School, rather than Ysgol Glan Clwyd, in St Asaph which is Welsh-medium. This change would mean that families have to pay for the cost of transport to receive a Welsh-medium education at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, and would bring to an end a policy which has been in place since the establishment of Denbighshire County Council. Said Elfed Williams, Chairperson of RhAG Sir Ddinbych, "The lack of vision and leadership shown by the Council over the past few months has reinforced the need for RhAG to establish a foothold in this county. At the moment it seems that there is a failure on their part to recognise the fundamental differences between a Welsh-medium education and a bilingual education. It is with great sadness that the Welsh Language Education Policy of a county, once renowned as the cradle of the Welsh Language Schools movement pioneers, is beginning to falter. The branch will work to highlight these failures and to ensure equal opportunities for all who wish to access Welsh-medium education in Denbighshire." The first official meeting of RhAG Sir Ddinbych will be held at Ysgol Bro Cinmeirch on February 25th at 7.30PM. Parents of all Welsh-medium schools in Denbighshire are warmly welcomed. End Notes For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on ceri@rhag.net or 07912175403
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Pembrokeshire Council considers Welsh-medium Education
RhAG has called on Pembrokeshires elected members to give full consideration to parents' aspirations for Welsh-medium education as they prepare to attend an extraordinary council meeting tomorrow. Councillors will vote on a series of recommendations for the reorganisation of secondary education provision in the county, including a proposal to open a Welsh-medium school for pupils aged 3 -16 in Haverfordwest. Said Ceri Owen on behalf of RhAG, "This long-awaited development is a step in the right direction for Welsh-medium education in Pembrokeshire, and in particular for the Haverfordwest area where there has been steady growth over recent years. "In the consultation undertaken last Autumn, 73% of respondents felt that there was a need to increase Welsh language provision in order to make it accessible to all children. It is encouraging that the council wants to respond to this by taking concrete steps to expand and develop Welsh-medium education in the county. "The establishment of an all-through school for 3-16 year olds offers a significant opportunity in terms of linguistic progression and continuity, there are now thriving examples of this model in a number of places across Wales. However we are concerned about the expectation that post 16 pupils must continue to travel the significant distance to Crymych in order to continue their education through the medium of Welsh. We urge therefore that the council prepare for a 3-18 school in order to avoid unfair travel for pupils. The reference to a "bilingual" school also causes alarm bells to ring; parents should have assurances that it will be a wholly Welsh-medium school. It is crucial that these fundamental matters are put in order from the outset, creating the right conditions to allow the school to thrive. "While welcoming the proposal under consideration, we believe that the council shouldnt rest on its laurels; this should be a step on the journey toward ensuring that both primary and secondary Welsh-medium education is available within a reasonable distance to all communities and is a practical and equitable option for any family who wants it. In this respect Milford Haven, Pembroke / Pembroke Dock and St. David's are other areas that need urgent attention. " End Notes For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Director of Development on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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TAG responds to latest school proposals
Ymgyrch TAG Campaign has given a cautious welcome to the latest proposals from Cardiff Council in relation to the provision of primary school places in the four wards of Grangetown, Butetown, Riverside and Canton. The proposals are outlined in a report that has been published in advance of Cardiff Council's Cabinet meeting on 26 January. Jo Beavan-Matcher, TAG Campaign Chair, says "The long-awaited announcement of these proposals is a relief for us; we have been waiting for an update on the Council's plans since September and have been rebuffed several times during that period. "First, it must be noted that the proposal to establish a starter class in the local community by September 2015 is very welcome. It bodes well that it is located at Ninian Park School, home of the former Welsh medium school of Tan-yr-Eos, ensuring accessible and convenient provision for many families in the area. We emphasize the need to ensure an adequate number of places from the start, as the pattern of growth of the past in this area justifies and hastens the need to open a school with two streams more or less immediately. "One obvious disappointment is that the school will not have a permanent location until 2017, despite the initial promise of a school by 2016. Tied in with this is the fact that delays mean a statutory consultation is not possible until after Westminster elections in May, which will contribute to delaying the process further. Naturally the introduction of the Hamadryad site as a possible location is bound to introduce new challenges, but as a campaign we are keen to discuss them and to cooperate with the Council in order to achieve the outcome we all want to see." Huw Williams, Secretary of Ymgyrch TAG, added, "After a long of period of discussing the benefits of a combined school and leisure facility at Channel View, there is of course disappointment that it is no longer being considered by the Council. That said, because of the complexities of such a project, there was a desperate need for vision and leadership from politicians in the ward, but that has never been forthcoming. Indeed, it seems that dividing the community and creating discord was their priority. Due to the economic climate we remain anxious about the future of the Leisure Centre and Play Area, and we can only hope local councillors have better ideas about how to secure their long term future. "As a campaign we must now focus on what's to come, and continue with the positive attitude we have adopted from the outset - by ensuring a Welsh-medium school for the children of Grangetown and Butetown as soon as possible. We need to start thinking seriously about its future: this is a unique opportunity to see the Welsh language thrive in an area that is poor in resources but rich in culture and heritage - with the language being a central part of that. "Confirmation of the details about the schools identity, catchment area, educational organization and administration is necessary from the beginning - from the moment the initial establishment of the starter class and throughout the process of transferring the school to the proposed new home. There are lessons to learn from the past in this regard. The confirmation of details and communication with parents is essential in order to alleviate any concerns or misconceptions. It will be key to establishing reasonable conditions to allow the school to flourish. "We look forward to formally responding to the statutory consultation and hope to continue and maintain a constructive dialogue with the Council in moving closer to opening a new Welsh school to serve the areas of Butetown and Grangetown." End For more information, please contact Huw Williams, TAG secretary on 07984643774 .
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Rhagolwg - latest!
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Success of Welsh-medium schools: one step towards further development
Findings from recently conducted BBC Wales research should be placed within a much broader context to avoid unfair misconceptions. This is RhAGs response to their recent survey that compares the performance of 11 year old pupils from every school in Wales in the core subjects of Welsh, English, Mathematics and Science. Said Lynne Davies, on behalf of RhAG, "We must respond carefully to these findings and interpret them as a snapshot of a particular period in the educational career of pupils in Welsh-medium schools. These findings need to be placed in parallel with other statistics to ensure a fair and balanced overview of the whole situation. "First of all, we must recognise and celebrate the fact that children attending Welsh-medium schools are less likely to underachieve than English-medium school pupils in Wales. Indeed, is it not amazing that a third of pupils from non-Welsh speaking backgrounds excel at 11 years of age? We must remember that this is happening as these children attempt to master not one, but two languages, which makes their achievements even more outstanding. "Attainment levels at the end of Key Stage 2 is a step towards further development at Key Stage 3 and 4; and GCSE results, overall, demonstrate the excellence of Welsh-medium education. "One resounding message that this research does highlight is the need to strengthen the Welsh language in other domains beyond the classroom; there is a need for much greater investment in social and recreational opportunities for children and young people through the medium of Welsh; more investment is needed to support parents on the linguistic journey of the family as a whole, and conditions need to be fostered so that we produce more Welsh-speaking homes. We trust that the Welsh Government will pay attention to this." Ends Notes BBC Wales article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-29727935 For more information contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Undermining the Cwricwlwm Cymreig
A new programme designed to teach history in Waless primary schools is undermining the Welsh Governments aims and objectives. This is claimed by RhAG, Parents for Welsh Education, who have expressed serious concern regarding the way the new programme is weakening how the Cwricwlwm Cymreig is taught. RhAG understands that an increasing number of Welsh and English medium primary school are using a resource called Conglfeini / Cornerstones, which has been planned in the first instance to answer the needs of the National Curriculum in England. Lynne Davies said on behalf of RhAG, This pack has been tailored for schools in England. The core of the pack has an English ethos suitable for the English curriculum, and is unsuitable for schools in Wales. Although there is some mention of Welsh history, the emphasis is on the English customs and the English throne. It is heartbreaking that primary school children in the south Wales valleys will know the exact dates of English kings and queens but will not know the history of their own communities, based on the mining industry. These packs are available in Welsh, but they are a direct translation of the English, and pupils will be studying a resource that does not reflect the Cwricwlwm Cymreig or History in the Curriculum in Wales. A further concern is the pack created for the Foundation Phase, which includes a specially prepared Welsh version. In it teachers are asked to look for songs, stories and nursery rhymes relevant to a specific theme, but all examples given, except one, are English in language and belong to English culture, which deprives our children of their own Welsh heritage. In addition to this it notes many times that pupils work through the medium of English and Welsh. For Welsh medium schools this is contrary to the Governments policy, which states that Welsh is the sole medium of teaching in the Foundation Phase. Lynne Davies added, The packs which present English history with additions for Wales are contrary to the recommendation of the committee that reviewed the Welsh Curriculum under Dr Elin Jones. This committee recommended that the Wales Curriculum should be offered on the foundation of Welsh history, with an international perspective. RhAG has written to the Education Minister for a swift investigation into this unacceptable situation and is calling on Professor Graham Donaldson to give this attention as part of the review of the education system in Wales. Ends Notes The Dr Elin Jones Committee report, The Cwricwlwm Cymreig, history and the story of Wales 2013 recommends: It is of the opinion that any further revision of the national curriculum in Wales should start from a Welsh perspective, taking as its foundation and starting point the culture, history, economy and contemporary institutions of Wales. It should aim to create a genuine and holistic national curriculum for Wales. For more information contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Irish Parliamentary delegation welcomed
On Wednesday, October 8 members of RhAG will meet a delegation from the Tithe an Oireachtais, the National Parliament of Ireland. The delegation, which visits Wales between 7 and 9 October, includes Mr Michael Mc Carthy TD and Senator Labhrs Murch, who will represent the Joint Committee for the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht (An Comhchoiste um Chomhshaol , Cultr agus Gaeltacht). The Committee are currently scrutinising the General Scheme of the proposed Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2014, and as part of its scrutiny will visit Wales to study the Welsh model of implementing bilingualism. The delegation have a particular interest in Welsh medium education and wish to compare the situation of minority language education in Wales and Ireland. They will also meet with the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, Welsh Government officials and other Welsh language organisations. Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said: "We look forward to welcoming this Irish delegation; in fact, we welcome the opportunity to share our experiences here in Wales and to compare the work done to revitalise our indigenous languages through the education system. We look forward to sharing good practice and to highlight the challenges that are bound to face any country striving to protect and promote its minority language. I am confident that we have much to learn from each other and that our discussions will be both useful and constructive." End Notes Mr Michael Mc Carthy TD is the Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht and Senator Labhrs Murch, is Vice Chairman of An Fochoiste um an Straitis 20 Bliain wave Ghaeilge 2010-2030 agus Ruda Gaolmhara (Joint Sub-Committee on the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 and related issues). National Parliament of Ireland website: http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/ For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Lessons to be learnt: Welsh-medium Education, Williams Commission and 2011 Census
UCAC and RhAG are pleased to announce a public meeting to discuss the future of Welsh-medium education in Wales. The event, which will be held on Wednesday, 6 August at 12pm in Pabell y Cymdeithasau 1 at the National Eisteddfod in Carmarthenshire, will include a panel of speakers discussing the recommendations of the Williams Commission, as well as the 2011 Census results, and how these events will shape Welsh-medium education in the forthcoming years. Chaired by Associate Professor Sin Wyn Siencyn from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the panel will include Keith Davies, Labour Assembly Member for Llanelli and former Director of Education in Carmarthenshire; Cefin Campbell, a Plaid Cymru Councillor, Education and Training Inspector for ESTYN and Chairman of Carmarthenshire Councils Census Working Group; and Heather Lewis, Headteacher of Ysgol Gyfun y Strade, Llanelli. Elen Davies, UCACs National President said: The panel will discuss the educational implications of the Williams Commissions recommendations to drastically reduce the number of local councils, and the disappointing results of the 2011 Census. The discussion is expected to be lively and will aim to explore some of the significant challenges that face Welsh-medium education in the near future. Ceri Owen, RhAG National Development Officer added, It is with great pleasure that we are able to work with UCAC to convene a meeting at this years National Eisteddfod. The discussion topics are timely and pivotal in terms of the development of Welsh-medium Education, and likely to instigate a lively debate by a group of individuals who are well known in their fields of expertise. We hope this meeting will stimulate a valuable discussion about the expected challenges and opportunities of the next few years. Notes UCAC (Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru) represents 5,000 teachers, headteachers and lecturers in all sectors in Wales. RhAG is a national organisation which represents parents of children in Welsh-medium Schools and promotes the expansion of WM schools across Wales The Williams Commission has recommended a drastic reduction in the number of local authorities; from 22 to 10, 11 or 12. The 2011 Census showed that the number of Welsh speakers had fallen to 19% of the Welsh population. For the first time in Carmarthenshire, only a minority of the population now speak Welsh. The 6.4% drop in numbers means that only 43.9% of the local population are Welsh speakers. The National Eisteddfod will be held in Llanelli from the 1st to the 9th of August. For further information please contact UCAC on 01970 639950/07787 572180 or RhAG on 07912175403.
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Protest against travel fee increase
RhAG has called on Newport City Council to postpone a threefold increase for 16+ transport costs until a full impact assessment and extensive consultation has been undertaken with pupils, parents and schools. This comes as Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw students and their families hold a protest outside the Civic Centre at 11yb today (Thursday, July 24). Elin Maher, a local parent and RhAG representative in Newport said, "The fundamental lack of consultation with pupils and parents about the increase in costs is totally unacceptable. Although the Council claim that theyre treating all pupils equally, the reality is that there is no local option for pupils who wish to study through the medium of Welsh; there is no provision within walking distance or should parents wish to drive their children, as there is for pupils who choose to study in English. Pupils who wish to access Welsh-medium provision are entirely dependent on the bus service provided by the Local Authority. Therefore a policy which aims to treat everyone equally doesnt necessarily treat everyone fairly. "The Welsh Governments Welsh-medium Education Strategy, places a duty on Local Authorities to promote access to Welsh-medium Education. Does charging 350 qualify as promotion? What if you have two children in the sixth form? 700 pounds to get to school? The Welsh Government should consider the current conflict between two national strategies - a conflict that enables Local Authorities to shirk their responsibility to promote Welsh-medium Education and allows them to provide transport on a discretionary basis only. "Newport City Council must consider the importance of ensuring easy access to 16+ education for the local economy - in whichever language the pupils choose. A study should be undertaken to identify how the local economy benefits from easy access to education up to the age of 18 - including free transport for those entering the workplace at 16. We have a responsibility to ensure that our young workforces have the best start - without having to worry how they got to their place of work or study. " End Notes Parents received a letter on July 2nd stating that the cost for the next academic year would be 347; an 80 increase on last year. The first installment is due by the end of July. The cost is payable notwithstanding the 150 travel allowance contribution by the council. Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw is the only Welsh-medium secondary school serving the counties of Newport, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent & Monmouthshire. Gwynllyw will be oversubscribed by 2017 and officials are looking at options to open another Welsh-medium comprehensive by September 2016. On May 12th this year Newport City Council's Cabinet gave the go-ahead on a conceptual document to start considering establishing a Welsh-medium secondary school in the city: http://www.newport.gov.uk/stellent/groups/public/documents/report/cont723560.pdf In January RhAG released a statement expressing concern about the implications of cutting 16+ transport on Welsh-medium education: http://www.rhag.net/stori.php?iaith=cym&id=153 For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net or Elin Maher on 07970304219
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Criticism of examining body for unfavourable treatment of Welsh language
RhAG has criticised Edexcel, one of the UK's largest examining bodies, which is looking for translators to translate Welsh pupils' exam papers from Welsh into English so that they can be marked by non-Welsh speaking examiners. Further criticism is the fact that an English company has been awarded the contract rather than drawing on the expertise of the translation sector in Wales. Said Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer, "This is a scandal, in what other country would it be deemed acceptable that translated work is examined rather than the original? Where a pupil has studied an entire subject through the medium of Welsh at school and then sat the examination in Welsh, there should be a mechanism in place which ensures that work is examined in the original language. "Such a situation is completely unacceptable and places pupils studying through the medium of Welsh at a significant disadvantage. They should have the same conditions as their contemporaries who study through the medium of English, where there is no interference in the original work. In such circumstances, the work being assessed isnt that of the pupils but another person's interpretation of that said work, in a completely different language. Pupils have to comply with strict rules under examination; the same yardstick should be applied when that work is assessed and moderated. "The Welsh Government's Welsh-medium Education Strategy aims to increase the number of students aged 14-19 studying for qualifications through the medium of Welsh. It is quite obvious that the existing infrastructure is totally inadequate, not to mention possessing the necessary capacity to cope with any expansion in the Welsh-medium sector. This examination board, and all other examining bodies from outside Wales, need to employ more professional practitioners who are qualified and able to fulfill their work through the medium of Welsh as a matter of urgency. " End Notes For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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First Minister and Basque language expert to address conference on a fairer budget for the Welsh language
Carwyn Jones, the First Minister and Paul Bilbao, a campaigner for the Basque language will be addressing a conference on fairer funding for the Welsh language at Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil on the 21st May. Kirsty Williams, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru will also be addressing the conference as well as Sian Lewis of Menter Iaith Caerdydd and Dai Bryer of the Urdd who will discuss the youth sector. Cllr Cefin Campbell of Carmarthenshire County Council will be reporting on his recent findings on the state of the Welsh language in that county and Rhian Huws Williams will be representing the Care Council for Wales. The days proceedings will be chaired by the BBC broadcaster Vaughan Roderick. Penri Williams, Chair of Mudiadau Dathlu'r Gymraeg said: The Government's "Cynhadledd Fawr" (Big Conference) - consultation about the state of the language - came to the conclusion that securing greater investment is essential if we are to see the Welsh language and its communities grow. So, there is already a broad consensus among supporters of the language about the importance of financing the language fairly. We put together a discussion paper targeting extra investment for the Welsh language and have presented it to all the political parties in the Senedd. We have researched the matter thoroughly and we hope that the conference will build on that consensus. "Over a period of time we are calling on the Government to increase the spending on specific projects to 1% of the budget, or 150 million, in the budget for 2015-16. A level that would match the Basque country's investment. We are all looking forward to hearing what Paul Bilbao has to say as we gain much from the Basque experience." Paul Bilbao specialised in the field of Basque adult literacy, editing and publishing. In 2001 he helped create the Linguistic Rights Observatory and became its Director in 2004. In recent years he has gained experience in international institutions and has participated in several United Nation forums. He is also the Basque representative for PEN INTERNATIONAL Translation & Linguistic Rights Commission. Kontseilua, The Council of Social Bodies in favour of the Basque Language is made up of 45 associations that came together 10 years ago. Their aim is to work in favour of the Basque language to promote, develop and normalise the language as one body. It is possible to register until 12th May through contacting gaynorjones@dathlu.org. There will be a translation facility available. End Notes to Editors CONFERENCE SCHEDULE 9.30 Arrival 9.45 Croeso/Welcome 10.00 Carwyn Jones, First Ministser 10.40 Cllr Ernie Galsworthy, Merthyr Tudful Borough Council 11:00 Leanne Wood, Kirsty Williams 11.45 Paul Bilbao, Basque language campaigner 12.30 Cllr Cefin Campbell, Carmarthenshire County Council 13.00 Lunch 13.45 Sian Lewis, Menter Iaith Caerdydd a Dai Bryer, Urdd 14.15 Rhian Huws Williams, Wales Care Council 14.40 Discussion & Manifesto 15.00 AGM A warm welcome is exended to all, registration for the conference contiues until 12th April. For more information, or if you would like to be present in the conference, contact: gaynorjones@dathlu.org / 01554 833902 @Dathlu_Cymraeg Mudiadau Dathlur Gymraeg Membership: CAER, Cronfa Glyndwr, Cwlwm Cyhoeddwyr Cymru, CYDAG, Friends of the Earth, Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin, Cymdeithas Bob Owen, Cymdeithas Cerdd Dant Cymru, Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru Cymdeithas y Cymod, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, Eglwys Bresbyteraidd Cymru Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru, Merched y Wawr, Mentrau Iaith Cymru, RhAG UAC, UCAC, UMCA, UMCB, Urdd Gobaith Cymru Full details of the conference - www.dathlu.org https://www.facebook.com/mudiadau Twitter: @Dathlu_Cymraeg
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Planning of WM education falls short of expectation
THE draft Welsh in Education Strategic Plans Schemes submitted by Welsh Local Authorities fall very short of Welsh Government targets for the growth of Welsh-medium education. This is RhAG and UCACs general conclusion after reviewing all the Plans . All Local Authorities in Wales have submitted their draft plans for ratification by the Welsh Government, and RhAG and UCAC have expressed concerns that a significant proportion are generally inadequate and lacking in ambition. This is the main finding of both organisations after contributing comments on all 22 Welsh in Education Strategic Plans, which become statutory documents for the first time from April 1, and outline how they will plan the provision of Welsh-medium Education between 2014-17. Overall the Plans are considered to be a lacking in tangible and measurable targets and too vague in terms of the methods that local authorities will adopt to achieve the targets that have been set in the Governments Welsh-medium Education Strategy. Among the key findings : Although Local Authorities generally want to see Welsh-medium education succeed, there is a general lack of vision and / or pro-active, assertive action to ensure that national targets are met. There is insufficient evidence to illustrate the expectation that LAs should now stimulate and promote the growth of Welsh-medium education . There is not enough reference to parental surveys for measuring demand or responding to surveys that have already been carried out. There is very little in terms of specific challenging and measurable targets that will lead to real progress . A lack of targets demonstrating specific growth and opening of new schools. In counties where primary secondary language progression is weak, there are insufficient targets to address this slippage and close the gap. A lack of emphasis, or in the case of a number of LAs, no emphasis at all on the proactive promotion of Welsh-medium education in order to stimulate growth . Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer said, "Some LAs have broadly outlined how they will expand Welsh-medium education, but we are concerned that the Plans currently fail to truly reflect the spirit and letter of the School Standards and Organization Act (Wales) 2013 and the accompanying Regulations. There is a failure to outline how each Local Authority will achieve the results expected of them. "The launch of the Welsh-medium Education Strategy back in April 2010 was the first step in the process of speeding up the response to the growing demand for Welsh-medium education: effective implementation of the work program is the only way to achieving the targets set in it . "All strategic plans should be effective vehicles which facilitate and resolve the existing barriers inhibiting the growth of Welsh-medium education, enabling Local Authorities to expand provision. It is therefore necessary that clear and coherent targets are set based on the vision that they have a duty now to not only meet the demand but also to stimulate growth. We acknowledge that some counties have clearly identified their priorities, however it is essential that all LAs emulate that practice. "RhAG calls on the Welsh Government to adopt a tough stance on this matter and we urge the Education Minister to use the new powers in his possession to reject all Plans which are too weak, general and vague. The Welsh Government must be unwavering and demonstrate that non-compliance isnt acceptable, so that we finally turn national consensus and political will into real change on the ground during the first cycle of these new Plans." Rebecca Williams, Policy Officer for UCAC added, "These plans are incredibly diverse, and some of them do include honest analysis and challenging targets. However, we are disappointed that so many demonstrate a lack of direction, a lack of inspiration and a lack of ambition. We urge the Welsh Government to ensure that Local Authorities take their statutory responsibilities seriously, and insist that the weakest plans are significantly revised as a matter of urgency. " End Notes For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net Rebecca Williams, UCAC Policy Officer on 01970 639950 or rebecca@athrawon.com Welsh in Education Strategic Plans 2014-17 National Overview: RhAGs General Conclusions http://www.rhag.net/dogfennau/WESPs%20National%20Overview.pdf Welsh Medium Education Strategy, Welsh Government, April 2010 http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/guidance/welshmededstrat/?lang=cy Welsh Medium Education Strategy Annual Report 2012-13 http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/guidance/wmesreport/?lang=cy In the introduction, the Education Minister acknowledges that the 2015 target wont be met, but without definitive action from LAs it is also highly unlikely that the 2020 target of 30% of 7 year olds receiving Welsh-medium education will be met either.
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Calls for the Education Minister to exercise his powers
RhAG (Parents for Welsh Medium Education) has called on the Minister for Education and Skills to use the new powers in his possession to reject weak plans from Local Authorities which will have responsibility for improving Welsh-medium education planning over the next three years. This was expressed in a letter to Huw Lewis AM the day after the submission deadline for the Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESP) to Welsh Government RhAG has already called on Local Authorities to take ownership of their duty to improve the planning of Welsh-medium Education under the new statutory system in order to realise the targets of the Welsh-medium Education Strategy (WMES) . Ceri Owen, RhAG National Development Officer said, "RhAG realises that achieving the aims and objectives of the WMES is a partnership between central and local government with responsibilities on both sides. It is therefore necessary to set clear and coherent targets based on the vision that LAs now have a duty to not only to meet the demand but also to promote growth. "As one of the stakeholders who has contributed comments on draft WESPs in a number of LAs, overall it has become clear that they have failed to embrace the new way of thinking which is now expected of them. In general there is a lack of specific and tangible targets throughout. Already the WMES Annual Report for 2012-13 has acknowledged that the 2015 target cannot be reached, but without proactive action plans by local government there is no way the 2020 targets can be met either. "In addition, there are elements beyond the remit of the education portfolio which have recently emerged (both on a local and national level) that set barriers which will create a stumbling block to the growth of Welsh-medium provision e.g cuts to nursery transport in RCT; threats to eliminate free 16+ transport in Bridgend and Merthyr and a lack of WM Flying Start childcare places to name but a few. In a time of financial constraints LAs see these as easy targets to save money without realising the far reaching negative impact on the growth of Welsh-medium education. "We urge the Welsh Government to implement a robust scrutiny and evaluation process, and if it turns out that plans fall short of the expected standard, we call on the Minister to use the new powers in his possession to reject those weak plans. A clear message must be given that non-compliance isnt acceptable, and the opportunity to turn national political consensus in to actual developments on the ground within the first cycle of these new plans must be grasped with both hands." End Notes For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Local Authorities need to expand WM Education
Parents for Welsh medium Education (RhAG) have called on all Local Authorities to take ownership of their duty to improve the planning of Welsh-medium Education. This comes after receiving an additional four weeks to submit their Welsh in Education Strategic Plans to the Welsh Government. Plans must now be submitted by 20 January 2014. Ceri Owen, RhAG National Development Officer said, "The new planning regime from April 2014 will be on a statutory basis, with the force of the law behind it. We therefore call on LAs to make the most of this additional time given to them, by strengthen plans in consultation with parents, enabling them to achieve national targets set in the Governments Welsh-medium Education Strategy (WMES). "The WMES Annual Report for 2012-13 has already acknowledged that the 2015 target wont be met. This was disappointing as RhAG had already declared that the targets were inadequate; however without definite action by local government the 2020 target of 30% of 7 year olds receiving Welsh-medium education wont be met either. RhAG has estimated that between 80-100 extra streams (30 children) will be required to achieve this. "The WMES now sets the national agenda in terms of Welsh-medium education planning, yet implementing this needs to be a partnership between central and local government with responsibilities placed on both sides. We need LAs to set clear and coherent targets based on the underlying vision that they have a duty now to not only meet demand but rather to promote growth. Similarly the Welsh Government need to have robust scrutiny and evaluation structures in place, and if any plans fall short of the expected standard, we expect the Education Minister to use his new powers to reject them. A very clear message must be projected that non-compliance isnt acceptable in order to finally translate national political consensus into actual developments on the ground." End
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A step closer to new secondary provision
RhAG (Parents for Welsh medium Education) has welcomed the recent announcement that promises a solution to the shortage of Welsh-medium secondary places in the southeast . This follows a statement by Newport Council which suggests that any new provision will probably be located within the county. Lynne Davies, a parent who lives in Monmouthshire and National Chairman of RhAG said, "Negotiations between the counties of Gwent have been happening for some time but without any definite progress . This long-awaited announcement is a very encouraging sign that the real solution is imminent. " The last few years have been a period of great uncertainty for parents, who were concerned about the future of Welsh medium secondary provision in the area and the impact on their children's education . This announcement is a step closer towards alleviating those concerns and offers reassurance that has been much needed . It is also vital that all local authorities are in close communication with parents every step of the way to ensure that this development is a real partnership between all stakeholders, including Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw which is the cluster secondary for this area at present . " Elin Maher, parent and Chair of RhAG Newport also noted , " While welcoming the news, we need to press for more detail - specifically in terms of location and organization of the proposed scheme, and this as soon as possible .We must also ensure that the plan is on track and ready to accept children of the area in September 2016." " It is important to remember that this solution is entirely dependent on capital funding from the Welsh Government. We trust that they will consider the solution as a partnership and will support this by investing the necessary funding, which in turn, will contribute to the their own objectives stated in the Welsh-medium Education Strategy. Local and central government must play their part to ensure that this plan is realised . " It's now time to turn statements of good faith into serious action . " end Notes For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Welsh-medium Education Strategy: grassroots experiences
ON Saturday 23 November, RhAG will convene for their AGM and Conference at Ysgol Gymraeg Treganna in Cardiff. This years theme is 'The Welsh-medium Education Strategy: local experiences'. The guest speakers are Gari Lewis, Head of Planning, Welsh in Education Unit, Welsh Government; Elin Maher, Newport RhAG; Cllr Arfon Jones, Wrexham RhAG and Dr Dyfed Wyn Huws, Ymgyrch TAG Campaign. Said Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson, "The objective of this years conference will be to focus on what is actually happening on the ground, by comparing the experiences of local RhAG group against national targets . We will question whether the Strategy is achieving its objectives do parents' experiences throughout Wales demonstrate that the strategy is fulfilling its aim and facilitating access to Welsh-medium education? Is policy at the highest level being mainstreamed through the actions of local government and having a positive impact quickly enough? "In view of the difficult financial climate and inevitable cuts in public budgets, we will consider the greatest challenges facing Local Authorities in achieving the Strategy's targets and specific aspects currently hindering growth. "And given that every county now has to produce and deliver a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan on a statutory basis, we will also discuss whether to campaign in the usual sense of the word continues to be necessary. We will discuss how RhAGs activity has already evolved and further consider the nature of our contribution as an advocate for parents in response to this new era. " End Notes For further information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Launch of WM Education Awareness Campaign
RhAG has welcomed the arrival of the Welsh-medium Education Awareness Campaign launched today by First Minister, Carwyn Jones. Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said, "RhAG has eagerly awaited the launch of this campaign, it is indeed a historic day which sees the Welsh Government for the first time owning the responsibility for the promotion of Welsh-medium education in Wales. It is encouraging to see the First Minister leading the launch which affirms the Welsh Government's commitment to seeing Welsh-medium education thrive. "It is extremely fitting that todays launch takes place at Ysgol Trelyn, Caerphilly which crystallizes the current dichotomy facing Welsh-medium education today. The building housing the school is representative of the challenges faced today by so many schools in the Welsh-medium sector and this in a county where there has been tremendous growth in demand for Welsh-medium education over recent years. If we are serious about real growth in the sector then future capital investment must be prioritised. "The School Standards and Organisation (Wales ) Act 2013 now places a duty on Local Authorities to create growth rather than just cater for it. This signals a step change from previous requirements. We hope that todays launch marks the beginning of the journey, and that the campaign will evolve annually and will therefore be adequately funded. A key consideration is that the target audience is not static; so it is crucial that the campaign is not only dynamic but fluid, and repeats the messages about WM education and the benefits of bilingualism year on year. We also hope that it brings together all partners who work tirelessly to promote WM education on the ground in truly a collaborative effort. "Above all, we must make sure that the core message of this campaign - that parents living in Wales have an alternative choice is a truly practical and realistic option, and that Local Authorities also carry out their duty in ensuring that WM provision is accessible, has robust progression in all key stages and is available within reasonable travel distance from the home. End Notes For further information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Flying Start policy impedes growth of Welsh-medium education
RhAG is alleging that a Welsh Government flagship policy is impeding the expansion of Welsh-medium education, despite the governments overall goodwill towards WM provision. A Freedom of Information Act request sent to all Local Authorities has highlighted that WM Flying Start provision doesnt come close to the current percentages receiving Welsh-medium education. This pattern is commonplace in about half the counties of Wales. This emerges following the official launch of Building a Brighter Future: The Early Years and Childcare Plan by First Minister Carwyn Jones at the National Eisteddfod in Denbigh this summer. Ceri Owen RhAG Development Officer said, "This exercise has highlighted a number of serious questions about the delivery of Flying Start on the ground and the status of the Welsh language within the policy. It appears that no detailed monitoring occurs, and little control in terms of how local authorities implement the program. A small minority of LAs are doing well - the rest are significantly underperforming. Flying Start is the first point of access to early years provision for a growing number of families, however the data suggests significant shortcomings in ensuring equal opportunities for disadvantaged families to access Welsh-medium Flying Start childcare provision. One must question the foundation this program is creating in terms of contributing towards achieving the targets set within the Welsh-medium Education Strategy as there appears to be a distinct lack of correlation between both. Therefore is this an example of one government policy undermining and hindering another? " Miss Owen continued, "RhAG is of the understanding that a major expansion of the Flying Start program is underway driven by significant Welsh Government investment. This is a key policy area which overlaps the remit of several Ministers, including that of Tackling Poverty, Child Care and Education. Central government needs to offer robust directives and guidance in relation to the status of the Welsh language within the program and its relationship with the aims and objectives of the WM Education Strategy. As Minister with responsibility for the Welsh language, the First Minister should reaffirm the Government's commitment and also ensure that relevant Ministers act accordingly within their own portfolios. The government needs to put in place an inspectorate to oversee the program, and should only fund those authorities which treat both languages equally in accordance with local expectations about the growth of Welsh-medium education. " end Notes Among the worst outcomes: Column 1: Local Authority Column 2: Children receiving WM Flying Start provision Column 3: No of WM places available Column 4: Percentage of children receiving WM education (Welsh Government statistics) NPT 1.5% 4.6% 17.7% Conwy 9.5% 9.18% 23.7% Newport 0% 0% 4.6% Cardiff 7.7% 12.3% 15% Swansea 1.8% 3.71% 13.6% Carmarthenshire 25% 30% 55.6% Merthyr 1% 5% 9.8% Pembrokeshire 12.7% 14% 21.2% RCT 9% 11% 20.5% Torfaen 5% 7% 10.2% Wrexham 4.1% 13.1% 12.1% Other findings: Transition to Welsh-medium education: percentages are very low and more often than not LAs noted that they didnt collect the data. One response: "Currently, there is no requirement to monitor the service schools attended by the transfer, and as a result, this information is not in our possession." WM staff numbers: On average, less than one third of staff within Flying Start program in the individual LAs were Welsh speakers (with the exception of Gwynedd, Anglesey and Ceredigion) Fundamental questions need to be asked in terms of current practice regarding data collection of staff language skills and linguistic nature of settings in the same way as there is an obligation to do so in terms of health and safety, CRB checks etc. Response of a number of LAs was, "There has been no assessment and the information was not collected." There is a general ambiguity and lack of consistency across the board in this regard.
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Cardiff cabinet betrays previous promise made by council
TODAY RhAG has accused Cardiff cabinet members of betraying the previous promise made by Cardiff Council in regards to Welsh-medium education in the city. In this afternoons meeting they voted in favour of proceeding to consultation in September to make permanent the third stream at Ysgol Pwll Coch, Leckwith and to shelve plans for a new WM primary school for Grangetown. Said a spokesman for the organisation, "Today the cabinet has acted in a completely ignorant manner and ignored the repeated calls and aspirations of parents and the wider local community. They have agreed to a public consultation on the basis of a statistically flawed paper which undercounts numbers within the Welsh-medium sector in the area and consequently highly questionable projections in terms of future growth. "National Welsh Government policy expects the council to respond to the demand for Welsh education locally: there is explicit local demand in Grangetown and yet this has been ignored. It seems that it is acceptable for children who seek Welsh-medium education to travel out of their community to accept that provision. The inequality of this policy is shocking. "RhAG was pleased to learn that the Plaid Cymru group on the council have called in the decision which means that the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee must now look at the proposal. RhAG will continue to work with parents, community organisations and the wider community as the campaign intensifies against this disgraceful decision. " end Notes For further information please contact Ceri Owen RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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Calls for Cardiff cabinet to make the right decision
IN a letter sent today to all members of Cardiff Council's Cabinet, RhAG has urged them to protect the welfare and interests of Welsh-medium Education in the capital by honouring a pledge to build a new Welsh Primary School in Grangetown. Councillors will vote on a paper that will go before the Cabinet tomorrow (Monday 22 July) which proposes withdrawing completely from the original plan to open a new Welsh-medium primary school in Grangetown in 2015, to use the site identified for the Welsh-medium school to build a new English-medium school and to make permanent the third stream at Ysgol Pwll Coch in Leckwith. This is the latest reaction from the council as they seek to respond to the growing demand for Welsh-medium primary places in the area. RhAG believes that squeezing more children at Ysgol Pwll Coch would be totally unfair on the pupils and a false economy in terms of the planning of Welsh-medium education in the area. RhAG also argues that securing the new Welsh-medium school for Grangetown is crucial in terms of offering parity of choice for parents who want to choose Welsh-medium education that is within a reasonable distance from their homes and calls upon the Council not to abandon its overarching vision of providing 'local schools for local children' in regards to WM provision. The organisation urges the Cabinet to reject the proposal in order to prioritise the welfare and interests of children living in the area above all else. This comes before parents and supporters prepare to stage a protest in front of County Hall tomorrow afternoon to voice their opposition. End Notes For further information please contact Ceri Owen RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net The letter in full: Dear Councillor I am writing to you as a member of Cardiff Council's Cabinet before you assemble tomorrow to discuss an issue of exceptional importance. On behalf of Cardiff RhAG members we ask you to safeguard the welfare and interests of Welsh-medium Education in our capital and to honour the promise to build a New Welsh-medium Primary School in Grangetown. We dont believe that the proposal to extend Ysgol Pwll Coch and establish a permanent third stream is an acceptable solution to the growing demand for Welsh-medium primary places in the area. Parental objection to the proposal is clear. This was highlighted during Aprils consultation, where disapproval was vociferous and expressed within 179 objection letters, as opposed to the 17 who were in favour of the plan. Squeezing more children on to the Pwll Coch site would create a huge injustice to the pupils and a significant error in terms of the planning of Welsh-medium provision in the area. In April RhAG wrote to Cllr. Julia Magill seeking assurances that the proposed New Welsh-medium School for Grangetown wouldnt be removed from the Councils 21st Century Schools Plan. A response was received in May which confirmed that the new school would continue to be part of the Council's vision. You will also be aware that reference is made to the New Welsh-medium Grangetown School within the Councils Welsh in Education Strategic Plan, which has already been ratified by the Welsh Government and which will be on a statutory basis from 2104 onwards. So the proposal laid out before you tomorrow is a complete turnaround on the public commitment shown up to this point: a plan which has already received Welsh Government approval and capital funding has been allocated since 2011. Recent patterns of growth shows explicit demand for Welsh-medium Education in the area, with an urgent need for more places. We know the two schools serving Canton and Grangetown will be crowded by 2015. The total number of children who have applied for admission to both schools for September 2013 is 154, which is over 5 streams and an increase of 7 above last year's total, not the fall to 136 pupils, which is what the Council predicted during Aprils consultation. The annual growth in the area is consistently about 10% and higher than the average growth across Cardiff. The current document consistently quotes dated and incorrect figures which significantly undercounts the number of pupils within the Welsh-medium sector at the moment and as result assumes that demand will be much less in the future. This cannot offer a sound and solid basis for moving forward. We would also argue that securing the New Welsh-medium School for Grangetown is crucial in terms of offering parity of choice for parents who want to choose Welsh-medium education and allowing them to do so within a reasonable distance from their homes. We urge you not to abandon the Council's vision of providing 'local schools for local children' in regards to families wishing to choose Welsh-medium Education and ask you to ensure the right for Grangetown children to attend a local school as has happened since 2007 with the establishment of Ysgol Tan-yr-eos. National policy as directed by Welsh Government sets a goal of having 30% of 7 year olds being educated through the medium of Welsh by 2020. Currently just under 20% of children receive WM education in Cardiff. So the Government's aim is to see a 50% increase in the number of children starting school in the Welsh-medium sector by 2018. It will not even be possible to come close to achieving this target if the promise of a third school in the Canton and Grangetown areas isnt honoured. Securing this school as part of the Council's strategic forward planning is crucial. For the reasons stated above therefore we call on you to reject the proposals which you will consider tomorrow in order to prioritise the rights and welfare of local children before all else. We ask you not to divert 6M of funding that has already been allocated for Welsh-medium education by Welsh Government for 3 years. We ask you to honour the original plan and build a New Welsh-medium Primary School in Grangetown. Yours Ceri Owen On behalf of RhAG Caerdydd
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Cardiff Council: broken promise of a new Welsh-medium school
National organisation RhAG (Parents for Welsh medium Education) has severely criticized Cardiff Council's intention not to honor a promise to build a new Welsh-medium primary school in the Grangetown area of the city and to use that site for building an English medium school. This comes as a complete U-turn on the council's original plans which form part of their 21st Century Schools Programme; plans that have already received Welsh Government approval with capital funding having been allocated since December 2011. In a paper being presented to Cabinet next Monday (July 22) the council proposes to extend current provision Ysgol Gymraeg Pwll Coch in Leckwith making it a permanent 3FE school as the solution to the growing demand for Welsh-medium primary places in the area. Said Michael Jones on behalf of RhAG Cardiff, "This announcement is truly shocking and raises fundamental questions about Cardiff Council's commitment to Welsh-medium Education. RhAG was critical of the Council back in April when it was suggested the new school wouldnt be ready by 2015 in accordance with the original timetable, and the proposal to extend the third stream at Pwll Coch as an interim measure until at least 2016. It is absolutely incomprehensible that the council now not only completely abandon the original plans but intend to use the site for a new English medium school. "Recent patterns of growth shows there is an explicit demand for Welsh-medium education in the area and an urgent need for more places. We know the two schools serving Canton and Grangetown areas will be crowded by 2015. The total number of children who have applied for admission to both schools for September 2013 is 154, which is over 5 streams and an increase of 7 above last year's total, and not the decrease to 136 pupils, which is what the council had forecasted . The annual growth is consistently around 10%. However, the council continue to adhere to a set of old figures which do not reflect the true growth forecasts and these incorrect figures are interspersed throughout the document. Compare this with the situation of the English-medium sector where places are available - one school in the area has 75% surplus places. It is also important to note that the English-medium sector in this area will gain two schools by next September Ninian Park and Radnor Infant School - when Ysgol Gymraeg Treganna relocates to its new home. The authoritys basis for this paper is completely illogical and the assumption remains that parents will primarily continue to choose English medium education. The fact is that this reports main objective is to increase English medium education places at the expense of Welsh education in the area. Ceri Owen RhAG Development Officer added, "The authority has on several occasions publicly confirmed that Ministerial permission has been granted to open a new Welsh-medium school for Grangetown in order to satisfy the expected growing demand in the area. Their intention is also stipulated in Cardiff Councils Welsh in Education Strategic Plan, which has also been ratified by the Welsh Government and from 2014 onwards will be on a statutory basis. This was further reinforced in a letter sent to RhAG by Cllr. Julia Magill, Executive Member for Education, on April 9th where she said that the new school continued to form part of the council's plans. We now see that these were empty words. It is quite apparent that the council's policy in relation to Welsh-medium education is to centralize provision and to abandon the vision of providing 'local schools for local children' where families wishing to choose Welsh-medium education are concerned. "We demand to know how this proposal is aligned with national objectives and targets set out in the Welsh-medium Education Strategy? Government policy sets a goal of having 30% of 7 year olds receiving their education through the medium of Welsh by 2020. Currently just under 20% of Cardiff children are educated through the medium of Welsh. So the Government's aim is to increase by 50% the number of children starting in WM schools in Cardiff by 2018. Cardiff will not come close to achieving this if they do not adhere to their promise of opening a third school to serve Canton and Grangetown. We therefore call on Julia Magill to explain why she has betrayed Welsh-medium education in this area and on the Cabinet to reverse this disgraceful decision immediately. " End
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The state of Welsh medium education in the South East
Michael Jones, RhAG Coordinator for the South East, assesses the state of Welsh medium education in the area on the Golwg360 blog: www.golwg360.com/blog/cyfranwyr-gwadd
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RhAGs Concern: Education Changes in Torfaen
RHAG has expressed concern about yesterdays decision by Torfaen Borough Council to transfer duties to plan, deliver and support education in the county to the South East Wales Educational Achievement Service, following a critical report by ESTYN back in February. The Chief Executive presented the proposals to Full Council, with a further recommendation to the abolition of the post of Chief Education Officer for the county. Elin Maher, of RhAG Newport said, "As a group that represents parents we have many concerns primarily with the way this news was revealed as well as the effects of short, medium and long-term changes on Welsh Medium education provision and developments in the area. As the authority that serves the pupils of Newport, Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire, south Powys and Torfaen, it has a responsibility to consider this regional provision when introducing such fundamental change. While recognizing that it is for Torfaen to determine the fate of its education service, Welsh Medium secondary provision has cross-county implications, thus, any change in Torfaen is bound to affect pupils living in neighbouring authorities. We want to know exactly how it will affect the quality of education of children and young people for Torfaen and surrounding counties, what monitoring systems are in place and what will be the effects on long-term planning of Welsh-medium provision in the future? "We also feel that all this has highlighted the failure of basic communication with key stakeholders, namely local parents and most importantly the pupils who are directly affected. What thought has been given to the needs and interests of children and young people when taking this decision? An unacceptable paradox arises in a situation where parents chose to entrust their children to the Welsh-medium sector which might not be the language spoken at home, and not shown the respect and courtesy to be fully informed when changes like these are planned. It should be a two-way transparent process, where parents receive clear information to understand exactly what the implications of such changes will have on their children's education. "Everyone has been in the dark since the publication of the ESTYN report, and uncertainty continues in light of this announcement, since no details have been disclosed about the particulars of this transfer of responsibility. Moreover, we are concerned that further uncertainty will have a negative impact on parental preferences and growth of Welsh medium education in the coming years. With the Welsh Government expecting local authorities to implement their Welsh in Education Strategic Plans in a coherent and coordinated manner, the further fragmentation of the educational landscape in this southeast raises big questions about priorities, outcomes and accountability in education in general, and specifically in terms of forward planning of Welsh medium education. We therefore call upon the South East Wales Education Achievement Service to engage with all relevant stakeholders including local authorities, schools, parents and pupils to inform and protect the interests and aspirations of children and parents over the coming months and years." end
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Torfaen Failure in Education Continues
A parent in Torfaen this week raised her concerns in Torfaen Council Chamber after a petition presented to Torfaen informing that the demand for Welsh Medium Primary School places in Cwmbran exceed supply was ignored. Yet again Ysgol Gymraeg Cwmbrn has had more applications than it has place available and parents have been refused admission for their children, some with siblings already attending the school, this despite Torfaen Council being made aware of the situation long before. Chair of Torfaen's own Parents for Welsh Medium Education Group (RhAG) Glyn Davies said, "Torfaen Council are putting their heads in the sand and hoping that parents will just give up, I can tell them they won't. The demand for Welsh-medium education in a childs own community is growing rapidly, every parent has the right to express a preference in terms of the language medium of their childs education, whether that be Welsh or English. Torfaen Council should open a new school in Cwmbran to meet the demand, its that simple. Mrs Moore of St Dials who has children in Welsh medium nursery now and who will be looking for a place in September 2014 said, "I came as any parent would to ask directly what Torfaen Council intends to do so that my child can be educated in Welsh in my community, the response I got shows the Council to be in denial of their responsibilities and I will be taking the matter forward through Assembly Members direct to the Minister of Education, Huw Lewis." This campaign looks set to escalate.
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Resignation of Minister: What next for Welsh Medium Education?
Following the sudden resignation of Education Minister Leighton Andrews RhAG has called on his successor to ensure that Welsh-medium Education remains a priority for the Welsh Government. RhAG calls for consistency in policy towards Welsh-medium Education and that the new Minister needs to establish a commitment to this from the outset. Lynne Davies, Chairman of RhAG said, "I want to thank Leighton Andrews for his commitment to Welsh-medium Education during his tenure as Minister of Education and for realizing a key One Wales Agreement promise by introducing the first Welsh-medium Education Strategy in our countrys history. On the eve of a crucial period where Welsh in Education Strategic Plans will be transformed from voluntary schemes to being statutory instruments, it is essential that the new Minister takes the lead in building on the work already achieved, by ensuring a seamless continuity in terms of attitude and mentality. "Much work remains to be done in achieving the Strategy's targets and it is essential that the successor establishes a firm and supportive vision which will achieve that. We look forward to working with that person in due course. " end
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Ysgol Carno - parent power wins the day
The organisation Parents for Welsh Medium Education (RhAG) has welcomed the recommendation that will safeguard the future of Ysgol Carno through a federation. In a report that will go before Powys Council's Cabinet on May 14th, Councillor Myfanwy Alexander, Portfolio Holder for Education, recommends a federation between Ysgol Carno, Ysgol Llanbrynmair and Ysgol Glantwymyn. This is now considered the preferred option rather than the original proposal to close the school. Ceri Owen, RhAG National Development Officer said, "Councillor M. Alexander has listened to the local community and has acknowledged that the closure of Ysgol Carno would not only have been a disaster in terms of accessibility and availability of Welsh-medium provision for the future of the Welsh language in the area. This new recommendation reflects this, and recognises the strength of feeling against the original threat to close the school. Powys Council has some major work to do in terms of strategic planning to increase opportunities to access Welsh-medium education. This is a step in the right direction and we hope it marks a more proactive and positive period in relation to planning to meet the growing demand for Welsh-medium education within the county. " end Notes Papers for Powys Council Cabinet Executive meeting 14 May 2013: http://www.powys.gov.uk/ag_2013-05-14c1_cy.pdf?id=47&L=1 http://www.powys.gov.uk/rep_2013-05-14c1_125a_en.pdf?id=47 For further information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net
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RhAG calls for converting goodwill into action.
RhAG has called on the Welsh Government to turn goodwill towards Welsh-medium education into concrete action. The organisation will make their case as they give evidence to a panel of linguistic experts visiting Wales on Monday 29 April. The purpose of the visit by members of the Committee of Experts on behalf of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages ​​is to gather evidence from a wide range of NGOs involved in the protection and promotion of the Welsh language. As part of their evidence will RhAG will state that a significant gap still remains between the aspirations of the Welsh Government in relation to WM education and the progress needed to achieve the targets of the Welsh Medium Education Strategy. The Government's target aims to ensure that 25% of 7 year olds in Wales will be educated through the medium of Welsh by 2015 increasing to 30% by 2020. Said Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer, "Much of our evidence echoes the same issues we raised when RhAG appeaed before the committee back in 2009. RhAG is pressing for the need to act on the basis of measuring the demand and the need for clear instructions to make it easier for Local Authorities to establish WM schools. Although progress has been made in relation to measuring the demand for WM education, there is no explicit instructions provided to LA on how to go about increasing the provision. Some counties have been proactive but others are lagging behind. As a result that implenenting action on the findings of surveys to measure demand isn't yet statutory progress, the expansion of the WM sector has been far too slow. "Currently the strategy fails in its ability to facilitate the provision of new WM schools. The Government should set specific targets for LAs to expand the number of WM schools. In our publication Growth in Welsh-medium Education in Wales 2012 - 2020, RhAG argues that 67 additional classes would need to be established to meet the Government target of 30% of children receiving WM education in Wales by 2020. There is little hope of reaching that goal if the Government fails to issue clear instructions ensuring that all LAs proactively work towards realising this objective." end Notes 1. Twf Addysg Gymraeg yng Nghymru 2012 - 2020, Michael Jones, 2012 http://www.rhag.net/dogfennau/twfc.pdf 2. Last report issued by the Committe of Experts of the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/minlang/Report/default_en.asp http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/minlang/Report/Recommendations/UKCMRec3_en.pdf
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U-turn on planning of Welsh-medium education in Cardiff
The national organisation Parents for Welsh medium Education (RhAG) has criticised Cardiff Council for a u-turn on their proposals to make permanent the enlargement of Ysgol Gymraeg Pwll Coch to admit up to 90 pupils into the Reception Year from September 2014. This according to RhAG is in complete contrast to the promise given back in 2011 when a consultation was held to expand provision as a temporary measure only. RhAG doesn't fundamentally disagree with the Council's intention to keep Ysgol Pwll Coch as a three form entry as a temporary 'bridging' measure, but that it should form part of a wider plan to establish a brand new school in Grangetown by 2015. It is very concerning that the Council now appears to be reneging on that promise, in line with the original timetable included in Cardiff Council's 21st Century Schools Plan with projects in the first envelope already ratified and funding assured by Welsh Government. The retention of a permanent third stream at Pwll Coch would inevitably put pressure on resources / space which is bound to affect the school's ability to maintain current high educational standards.This is a completely unacceptable situation for pupils, staff and parents. Said Michael Jones, RhAG South east Wales Coordinator, "The logic and statistics provided by the Council to support the plan is flawed, inconsistent or simply unfounded. According to Council figures, the number of new children in the area are expected to fall next September, which would be for the first time in 10 years, and yet it is claimed that provision needs to be increased from the current 5 streams to 6 streams (150 to 180 children) despite 5 streams being sufficient to accomodate the 136 children the council expected this year. In 2006, Treganna and Pwll Coch schools admitted 90 children when a total of 102 children applied for places. In response to this a starter class was opened at Ninian Park School in 2007, now called Ysgol Tan-yr-eos, which has now grown to a full school and will form the second stream at Ysgol Treganna from September 2013. In 2012 Treganna and Pwll Coch admitted a total of 147 children, an increase of 57 children in 6 years, which is higher than the average for the whole of Cardiff between 2000 and 2011, equating to 6.22%. It must be remembered that Treganna and Pwll Coch have also received the overflow from Ysgol Nant Caerau of 10 pupils per year for the past 2 years. In fact the number already admitted to Treganna and Pwll Coch this year has already reached 154;there are children who have failed to obtain admission to Nant Caerau yet again and these children taken with the usual late applicants will in all probability ensure that the total admissions exceed 160 and reach the usual 10% increase in this area. "It is fairly certain that both schools serving the Canton and Grangetown areas will be oversubscribed by 2015. The Council has confirmed that they've received permission from the Minister to open the new school in Grangetown to cater for the expected growth in demand in the area. However, it is claimed that it has not been possible to find a suitable site and consequently it will not be possible to open the school before 2016. The Council has also expressed uncertainty about the viability of the new school in terms of the demand for WM provision in the area. This is a completely unbelievable statement as RhAG has expressed its concern for more than a year that a one form entry would be insufficient by 2019/20 and pushing for the school to be built on a site which could accomodate a second form entry by 2017/18. It is therefore critical that the new school remains as part of Cardiff's 21st Century Schools programme in line with the original timetable and as Cllr. Julia Magill, Exectuive Member for Education has again promised in a recent letter to RhAG. Said Ceri Owen, RhAG National Development Officer, "If the plan to establish a 3rd stream at Pwll Coch is implemented this will mean that there will be three schools of this size in the Welsh-medium sector in Cardiff. In a response to a written question submitted to the Executive Member for Education, it was denied that that this is a move towards a policy of centralizing provision treating the WM sector in an unequal and disproportionate way compared to the EM sector. RhAG is concerned that Cardiff Council is moving away from its commitment to the vision of 'local schools for local children' with regard to the WM sector. "We must ask how Cardiff Council's proposals to plan WM education across the city can claim to be in line with the national objectives and targets of the Welsh Medium Education Strategy. Welsh Government policy has set a target that 30% of 7 year olds in Wales will be assessed through the medium of Welsh by 2020. Currently fewer than 20% do so in Cardiff. The Government's aim is for Cardiff to see an increase of 50% of school children who begin in the WM sector by 2018. Cardiff won't come close to achieving that without expanding provision in Splott and honouring its promise to establish a 3rd school for the Canton and Grangetown areas. RhAG therefore urges the Labour led Council in Cardiff to change its attitude which at present is completely opposite to the nationalpolicy set by fellow party members within Welsh Government."
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Welsh Governments 31m brain drain subsidy
In An IWA article, Heini Gruffudd argues that we should stop subsiding those who choose to study outside the country: http://www.clickonwales.org/2013/03/welsh-governments-31m-brain-drain-subsidy/
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RhAG criticises Powys Council for undermining Welsh-medium education
The national organisation Parents for Welsh Medium Education (RhAG) has criticised Powys Council for using wholly incorrect and inaccurate information in its consultation on proposals to close Ysgol Carno. This would ultimately would be open for challenge by judicial review. The organisation will write to the Council on behalf of parents campaigning against closure urging them to rethink their plans and start afresh. The proposals, which the Council have agreed to take forward are based on January 2012 data and do not reflect the recent 84% growth in pupil numbers and the consequent decrease in surplus places and cost per head of education. Under the proposals the 44 pupils currently on roll would be dispersed to neighbouring schools. The only one which can offer a comparable WM education, Ysgol Llanbrynmair located 7 miles away, is physically unable to accept all the children. The other options are a dual stream provision and English medium provision. RhAG considers that the proposals to close one of the top three schools in the Machynlleth/Llanidloes catchment areas based on Estyn Inspection reports will be damaging to the existing provision and willl preven the growth of Welsh medium education in the north of the county. It will also undermine the requirements of the Welsh Government's Welsh Medium Education Strategy which, once legislation expected to be passed in April, [1] will place a statutory duty on all Local Authorities to grow and increase WM provision with a specific emphasis on 'increasing access for early years and primary provision within a child's community'[2]. Said Mr Michael Jones, RhAG's Legal Advisor, "It is unjustifiable that a report based on information which is completely out of date has been submitted and the recommendations adopted based upon such information. There are a number of significant and fundamental issues which need to be addressed, since the fact that due process appears not to have been followed in the conclusion to close Ysgol Carno. The APB and Dyfi Valley Workstreams' explicit recommendation was federation rather than closure, but it seems that local democratic processes have been disregarded." Said Mr Jones, "The Cabinet Member with responsibility for the Education Portfolio is also contradicting herself when she refers to the Condition of Ysgol Carno's buildings.The Cabinet report states that Ysgol Carno received the worst condition grade, which is untrue, as Welsh Government itself graded this a B (Satisfactory) which is the same grade given to other schools in the area. It is also neither useful or constructive when the Cabinet Member is publicly quoted as labelling Ysgol Carno's condition as 'disgraceful' without ever having visited the school, fuelling concern and worry in an already emotionally charged situation." He went on to say, "These proposals also don't fully consider the consequence closure would have on the public purse. The Council's own figures state that the transport bill would be approx 57,000 but only if transport were limited to one location. The reality is that closure could lead to parents opting for alternative provision which could drastically snowball the transport bill." Ceri Owen, RhAG National Development Officer added, " The key consideration should be that the alternative offered to parents should be of equal or better standard. This will certainly not be the case here, as these proposals will adversely affect parental choice and equality of opportunity. Parents who send their children to Ysgol Carno have made a conscious decision to choose WM education for their children, and if the school was closed, the stark reality is that this could no longer be an option for everyone. What is also concerning is that no impact assessment has been carried out in terms of the effect this closure would have on the Welsh Language or on the wider community.There is no question that if implemented, this policy would jeopardise the development of Welsh-medium provision in this area, and stifle the recent and projected future growth." Said Ms Owen, "Does Powys Council consider it appropriate to safeguard the Welsh language in one community at the expense of other surrounding communities? This flies in the face of national legislation and policy relating to the Welsh Language. RhAG calls upon the Cabinet Member with responsibility for education in Powys to answer this and to qualify how these proposals are considered to be in alignment with Welsh Government's vision of furthering the growth of Welsh-medium education and responding in a planned way to demand." end Notes For further information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net [1] School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill http://wales.gov.uk/legislation/programme/assemblybills/schoolstandards/?lang=en [2] Welsh-medium Education Strategy, Welsh Assembly Government, Information document no: 083/2010, p.13 http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/guidance/welshmededstrat/?lang=en
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Local parents present petition calling for more Welsh-medium provision
Local Torfaen parents and members of RhAG Torfaen (Parents for Welsh medium Education) group will present a petition to Councillors at Torfaen's next full Council meeting (Tuesday 11th December) calling for additional Welsh-medium primary provision to be established within the Authority. At a recent event organised by Menter Iaith Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen a Mynwy (Welsh language Initiative) for parents whose children will be attending reception classes in September 2013 (and with children not currently attending WM provision), more than 40 parents from the Cwmbrn catchment area and more than 20 from the Panteg catchment area signed a petition calling on Torfaen Council to provide their child with a place at a Welsh-medium school within their catchment areas. The last few years have seen a substantial expansion in the number of Welsh-medium nursery and early years provision (maintained and non-maintained) which has had a tremendous impact on numbers. All schools are close to or at over capacity including Ysgol Panteg, the Authority's third WM primary opened in 2010, which is expected to be oversubscribed by September 2013. Ysgol Panteg was turned into a two-form entry school last September, to catch the overflow from the Authority's other two WM schools, and is expected to reach current capacity of 150 pupils much earlier than anticipated. The situation came to a head at the beginning of this year, with a number of parents refused first choice reception place for their children at Welsh-medium schools in Torfaen for this current academic year; a number of them with siblings already attending those schools. Said Glyn Davies, RhAG Torfaen chair, "It is unavoidable that further schools must be opened to meet demand. Findings from the last survey to measure demand carried out by Torfaen Council confirmed that 39% of parents would like their children to receive their education through the medium of Welsh.This is reinforced by recent trends and future projections . Action must now be taken to accommodate this growth in line with the emphasis within the Welsh-medium Education Strategy for planning proactively to meet future growth in demand.[1] " "As part of the Authoritys 21st century Schools programme, proposals have been outlined for the opening of a brand new-build on the AVESTA site. However it is becoming apparent that this funding won't transpire until the tail end of the programme's first phase. RhAG is also concerned that the proposal doesn't offer a solution which takes into account the needs of families across the whole of the Authority. We feel that it must be one element of a wider strategic plan to develop Welsh-medium education across the Authority - not the only one. Parents are naturally concerned that the future planning of Welsh-medium provision in Torfaen is currently being pinned on a school, which as of yet does not exist, and where all three Welsh-medium schools will be oversubscribed within the next year." Mr Davies went on to say, "RhAG calls on the Authority to adopt a strategy where Welsh-medium schools serve local communities and are situated within a reasonable reach of every family. In the majority of cases children wishing to access English-medium education can do so within their communities and can expect to seamlessly progress from nursery to primary education within the same provision. RhAG seeks equal parity for Welsh-medium provision, and that parents are given a fair choice as they decide on which language medium to educate their children. Currently parents choosing Welsh-medium education for their children are being placed at an unfair disadvantage." end Notes [1] Welsh Assembly Government, Welsh-medium Education Strategy, Document No: 083/2010, April 2010, p.13
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Poem especially composed for the RhAG anniversary
A poem was especially composed for the RhAG 60th birthday celebrations by Eurig Salisbury, Children's Poet of Wales. It was read by the actor Richard Harrington.
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Mighty oaks from little acorns grow - RhAG celebrates its 60th birthday
Children and parents will fill the Pierhead buidling in Cardiff next week to celebrate RhAG's 60th anniversary. Parents for Welsh-medium Education (RhAG) will hold a celebratory event on Wednesday 3 October. A special booklet will be published to mark the occasion and pupils from a number of Welsh-medium schools will perform. The programme will include musical items from Ysgolion Pwll Coch; Glantaf; Bryn Tawe a'r Cymer, with Caryl Parry Jones as master of the ceremony. An unique film combining the work of a number of schools will be shown, the celebrated actor Richard Harrington will read a poem specially commissioned for the event by the Welsh-language Children's Poet Laureate, Eurig Salisbury in addition to the launch of an appendix to 'Our Children's Language: The Welsh-medium Schools of Wales 1939 - 2000' which summarizes developments in the field since the year 2000. The organisation is proud to work with parents, schools, various national organisations, local authorities, AMs and Ministers to ensure that the growing demand for Welsh medium education is met. RhAG would like to thank everyone for their continued support, which is why the organisation will be inviting friends and special guests to celebrate at the Pierhead, in Cardiff Bay at 12.30pm. Said Morgan Hopkins, one of the co-organisers and member of RhAG's national committee, "It is very exciting to mark this historical milestone in RhAG's history by organising such an unique event. We are grateful that the event has secured cross-party sponsorship thereby reinforcing the fact that Welsh-medium education now has national political consensus." "Our hope is that the event will not only allow us to reflect on RhAG's contribution towards the growth of Welsh-medium education, while also celebrating the tremendous success of the Welsh-medium schools, but also just as importantly, set our sights firmly on the future which promises a new and exciting era in its development." "We look forward to working in further partnership to ensure that each parent who wishes to access Welsh-medium education can do so, and that provision is convenient and within a reasonable distance from their home." RhAG continues to work towards increasing Welsh-medium provision throughout the whole of Wales. Welsh medium education has been one of the great success stories in the restoration of the language of Wales. Since we are perhaps only a third of the way through the process of establishing a fair system of Welsh medium education throughout the country, it is fair to say that Welsh Medium education has still much to contribute. The event has received cross-party sponsorship from the following AMs: Angela Burns; Simon Thomas; Keith Davies and Aled Roberts, who will all give a short speech in addition to the keynote address by Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills.
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Little hope of reaching the Government target of 25% of 7-year-olds in Welsh medium by 2015
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Welsh Medium Education- Two Years of putting into effect
The Welsh Government has just published its second report on the operation of its Strategy for the Development of Welsh medium Education first introduced in 2009. The Report shows a continuing increase in the percentage of children in receipt of Welsh medium (WM) education at the age of 7 from 21.8% to 21.9%. An increase of 0.1% annually is hardly going to ensure the attainment of the target of 25% by 2015 which was fixed by the WG. Much of the percentage growth since the 19% recorded in 2001 is down to the fact that the whole cohort of all children has decreased by 14% since that date, from 35,000 to 30,000 while the cohort of children receiving WM education has remained about the same at roughly 6600 over the period and thus formed a higher percentage of the whole cohort. In other words classrooms have stayed full in the WM sector while they have emptied in the English medium sector. This of course confirms the argument of RhAG (Parents for Welsh medium Education) over the years that there is a need for more WM schools to meet the true, hidden demand for WM education. In the year considered by the Report the number of WM children has increased by 168 to 6728 but the overall cohort has also increased from 30,061 to 30,655 leading to only a small increase in the percentage growth of WM children. The Report notes that the children in the recently opened WM schools (there were 3 in 2011-12 alone) have not yet reached the age of 7 so as to be counted in the percentage for the current year and that from these new schools will come the children to ensure the achievement of the Government target, but the Report does not mention that the whole cohort of children is certainly growing in the cities (Cardiff, Swansea and Newport) following the arrival of substantial numbers of immigrants from the EU and Asia who are filling the EM schools, especially those nearest to the city centres, thus changing the pattern of falling rolls seen since 1995. The Report is very revealing in providing percentages of WM children at 7 in each LEA for the years 2001-2011 instead of last years bar-chart. Unfortunately we are not given the actual numbers of children in each LEA and it is therefore not possible to be sure to what extent the increase of the WM percentage is due to a decrease in the whole cohort size or to an increase in the WM provision. There follows a table of percentages in each LEA:- 2001 2011 Anglesey 70.9 68.8 Gwynedd 96.9 98.4 Neath PT 17.4 15.3 Conwy 21.5 26.1 Denbighsh. 20.9 25.0 Flint 6.0 5.7 Wrexham 10.6 11.7 Powys 14.5 16.8 Ceredigion 76.0 73.1 Pembs. 16.8 21.2 Carms. 51.5 55.6 Swansea 8.6 12.6 Bridgend 8.2 8.9 Vale of Glam 10.9 13.7 RCT 17.9 20.8 Merthyr 9.1 12.8 Cardiff 9.8 15.9 Caerphilly 10.7 17.3 Bl Gwent 4.2 4.7 Torfaen 5.0 9.4 Monmouths. 1.5 4.4 Newport 2.3 3.9 The report draws attention to the increase each year in the two big cities, Cardiff and Swansea, which at 50% is much higher than can be accounted for by the fall in numbers of the whole cohort and it notes further that there have been regular additions to the number of WM schools in both cities over the period from 2001 to 2011, as has happened more recently in Newport. The report notes that the growth in the north, south-west and Mid Wales is much lower than in the south-east. It goes on, rather kindly, to observe the lack of growth in 4 LEAs, namely Flintshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot and Anglesey; the plain truth is that the WM percentage in each area has fallen, raising the unavoidable question of why. Anglesey is next door to Gwynedd where the percentage is all but 100%. The Flintshire parents do not share the Denbighshire tradition of struggling for WM education; in Flintshire WM schools came as a gift from two enlightened education officers. Why is Ceredigion failing when Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire are making progress? Why has Neath Port Talbot kept alive the hostile attitude to WM education of the old West Glamorgan LEA when Swansea has changed so completely as to receive the well-deserved praise of the Report. Is it because old Labour has remained in unbroken control of Neath Port Talbot? Certainly its attitude is in marked contrast to that of Leighton Andrews the Minister of Education himself who in presenting this Report rejoices in the success which is attending the new Strategy, a policy which he is currently in the process of making statutory in the Bill which he has presented to the Assembly recently.
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Councils failings to increase Welsh-medium provision
Article in today's Western Mail: Five Welsh councils have been accused of failing to comply with their responsibility to ensure the demand for Welsh medium education is satisfied in their area. The authorities Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire and Neath Port Talbot are named in an article written for the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) journal Agenda. The author of the article, Michael Jones of the organisation Rhieni dros Addysg Cymru (Parents for Welsh medium education) uses Welsh Government statistics in a comprehensive survey of all 22 local authorities and their performance in meeting the need for Welsh medium schools. The bottom five councils are described by Mr Jones, a solicitor, as non-compliant. He writes: Neath Port Talbot, which includes the Swansea Valley between Pontardawe and Ystalyfera, did open a new primary in 1999 and has carried out two parental surveys, both of which it refuses to publish. This is an area with a good historical record for Welsh-medium provision, with 15.5% in Welsh education in 2000 but actually falling to 15% by 2010. Here the Minister needs to intervene with his statutory powers. Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr and Bridgend show no or miniscule growth and have carried out no parental surveys. Again, the inaction of these authorities calls for Ministerial intervention, which for reasons unconnected with Welsh-medium education occurred in Blaenau Gwent towards the end of 2011. Monmouthshire has not acted to meet the demand for a school in Monmouth, the need for which is demonstrated by the numbers who make the long journey to Abergavenny daily. There is also a need for a fourth school to serve the area around Usk. No surveys have been published by these four non-compliant counties. Overall across Wales, however, Mr Jones finds the proportion of seven-year-olds receiving Welsh medium education on course to attain a Welsh Government target of 25% by 2015. But if the later target of 30% of children getting Welsh medium education by 2020 is to be achieved, Mr Jones says more schools need to be opened. A Welsh Government spokesman said: We expect all local authorities to identify how they will provide sufficient and appropriate places for children whose parents/carers desire them to have Welsh medium education. The School Standards and Organisation Bill, which the Minister commended to the National Assembly [yesterday] Tues will place a duty upon local authorities to prepare, consult on and publish a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan that will be submitted for approval of, and monitoring by, Welsh Ministers. One of the key provisions in the Bill relating to Welsh in Education Strategic Plans will be the requirement for local authorities under certain circumstances to measure parental demand for Welsh medium education in their areas. A spokeswoman for Blaenau Gwent council said a 5.3m Welsh medium primary school had been opened in 2010, said parents had been surveyed, and added the council was working closely with Rhieni dros Addysg Cymru to look at further expanding Welsh language provision. A Bridgend council spokesman said: We routinely ask parents of young children about their preferences for English or Welsh medium education. We are planning to increase the capacity for Welsh medium places in the primary school sector and have secured in-principle funding from the Welsh Government to take this forward. A Merthyr Tydfil council spokeswoman said: In Merthyr the demand for pupil places is increasing at the fastest rate in faith primary schools where there has been a 6.9% increase in pupil numbers over the past three years compared to Welsh medium education where there has been a 0.4% increase in the same period. The IWA article fails to see the real difficulties in meeting the national targets for some local authorities. Merthyr council has the same commitment to developing Welsh medium education (first and second language) across its schools as other authorities which have increasing demand in this sector and which will achieve the national targets. However, we would be unable to meet the national targets for Year 2 learners studying through the medium of Welsh unless a further two Welsh medium schools were established. With the current surplus places in Welsh medium schools this has to be a long term aim. Paul Matthews, Monmouthshire County Councils chief executive, said: Every child in Monmouthshire who has expressed a wish for a Welsh medium education has been accommodated in a Welsh medium school. We do not see that there will be any change to that. A spokesman for Neath Port Talbot council said: The re-configuration of Welsh medium education is central to our plans to secure growth in Welsh medium provision across the county borough. Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/04/25/councils-accused-of-welsh-language-education-failings-91466-30832289/#ixzz1t3ZukLOE
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Parents for Welsh-medium Education group re-established in Bridgend
In a recent public meeting held at Gilead Chapel, Coity parents unanimously supported the re-establishment of a local RhAG group in Bridgend to channel efforts to develop Welsh-medium education within the authority. A local RhAG committee has been active for years and their efforts came to fruition with the establishment of the authority's first Welsh-medium secondary school, Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd in 2008. Since then, new challenges have emerged, including the increasing demand for places in two of the authority's WM primary schools, Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Ogwr and Ysgol y Ferch o'r Sger. If this trend continues, the authority's current provision in these areas will be unable to satisfy demand in the near future. Another pressing development is the new housing development at Parc Derwen, Coity. Once a sufficient number of houses have been sold, a new school will be built on the estate, but the Council have expressed a view that this will be an English-medium school. This presumption has been made without any effort to ascertain local parental demand. It is inevitable that this development will directly impact the Welsh-medium school currently serving this area, Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Ogwr, which is already bursting at the seams. Said Councillor Mal John, a member of the original RhAG committee in Bridgend, "I welcome the re-establishment of a RhAG group in the area, which will serve as a forum for local parents to voice their opinions and as a vehicle which will allows us to work with the local authority to create increased opportunities to access Welsh-medium provision within Bridgend. The group's objectives reflect the national targets outlined in the Welsh Government's Welsh-medium Education Strategy." "It has become apparent that the council must respond as a matter of urgency to resolve the current situation. Now is the time to call for the establishment of the authority's fifth WM primary school, which will ensure that Welsh-medium provision continues to thrive and that parents who wish to choose Welsh-medium education for their children can access provision which is convenient and within a reasonable distance to their homes." The committe will hold its first official meeting within the next few weeks. If you're interested in attending the next RhAG meeting please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG National Development Officer on 07912175403 or ceri@rhag.net.
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RhAG calls for clearly defined standards to develop Welsh-medium education
RhAG has welcomed the recent statement made by Leighton Andrews, Education and Skills Minister, that Welsh-medium education is a key part of the Government's vision for the Welsh language. While introducing Iaith fyw: iaith byw, Leighton Andrews, Education and Skills Minister, said that the Welsh-medium Education Strategy should be read in conjunction with the Welsh language strategy. Said Lynne Davies, RhAG Chair, "RhAG is pleased that the Government considers Welsh-medium education integral to the future of the Welsh language. The next step will be that the standards created by the Language Commissioner will ensure that Welsh-medium education continues to grow." RhAG wishes to see clearly defined standards created in terms of responding to the demand for Welsh-medium education in more Anglicized areas. Currently some 40% of parents across Anglicized south Wales and north-east Welsh wish to give their children education. But current provision is only approxomately 10%. Said Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer, "The creation of clearly defined standards for Welsh-medium provision directly corresponding to demand would trigger the establishent of more schools. The LEA's now have to present their Welsh in Education Strategic Plans to the Welsh Government's DES (Department for Education and Skills), but having robust standards in place would be a way of enforcing local authorities who currently are unwilling to act and consequently are lagging behind." Amongst the local authorities currently increasing their number of Welsh-medium schools are Swansea, the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff and RCT. On the other hand, progress has been slow in Merthyr Tydfil and Bridgend. Said Ceri Owen, "The forecasts for the growth of Welsh education looks optimistic, and it is promising that the Government wants to achieve this. " end For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403.
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Special Council Meeting
Caerffili County Borough Council will be holding a Special Meeting of the full council next Tuesday. The first item on the agenda will be to accept the offer of support from the Welsh Government to develop the site of the old St Ilan School in Caerffili. You will know that the proposal is to provide a Welsh medium comprehensive (11 16) school as well as new premises for Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili at the site. Councillor Phil Bevan, the Cabinet member for Education, will propose that the project will begin as soon as possible to ensure provision for Year 7 pupils by September 2013. At last Mondays RhAG meeting parents expressed a wish to be present at this historic meeting. It is understood that we will have no opportunity to address the meeting but many felt that they wanted to show their concern and to express support for the proposals. The meeting starts at 5:00 p.m. and will be at the Chamber at Council H.Q. in Tredomen, Ystrad Mynach. These buildings stand prominently alongside the road to Nelson and there should be adequate parking facilities. Its suggested that those wishing to turn up do so by about 4.45. By all means bring your children with you, this should not be a long meeting.
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Key day for Welsh Medium Education
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Responses to the New Welsh medium education Strategy - Article by Michael Jones published in the Western Mail
Two years ago the then Minister of Education in Wales launched her new strategy for the development of Welsh medium education targeting help in achieving WAGs aim to increase Welsh speakers by 5% by 2011 against the figure in the 2001 Census. This necessarily involved raising the number of WM places. Monitoring the response of local education authorities was to be transferred from the Welsh Language Board which had it statutorily. Local authorities were urged to respond positively to a departmental circular issued by the Ministers predecessor, asking them to hold surveys to ascertain any unmet need for Welsh medium education and to make proposals to fulfil such need. The Minister warned that if LEAs ignored her strategy then she would take statutory powers, as her successor Leighton Andrews has reiterated. After two years, what is the response in South Wales to the new strategy? Mixed: of the 15 authorities, six have done well; five badly and the four indifferently. The good authorities are Newport, Torfaen, Caerphilly, Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiganshire. Newport carried out a survey in response to the original circular, found a substantial unmet need and agreed to open a second school in September 2009. Its immediate popularity demanded a second stream which was provided so that in 2010 60 children were admitted instead of 30. A second survey was undertaken among parents of children entering school in 2011/14, which showed a need for a third school to be opened this September. Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan both carried out surveys, detected unmet need and have acted promptly to open new schools. Since Caerphilly became an education authority in 1996 it has a record of opening additional schools and filling them, 3 new schools over 14 years, as well as extending others. Cardiff (and South Glamorgan before it) has pursued a policy of working towards having one WM school in every ward of the city. Thus since 2000 it has opened 6 new primary schools and will open a third secondary school in 2012. Cardiganshire has a scheme in hand to increase the Welsh element at its bilingual secondary schools (Cardigan, Lampeter, Tregaron, Aberaeron). Its plan to combine primary schools in the Llandysul area to have 3-19 Welsh medium provision on one campus is innovative, creating a firm foundation for the future of WM education locally. It just manages to join the good class. Merthyr Tydfil, with no new school opened since 1976, heads the list of defaulters, proclaiming its intention not to waste money on a survey of unmet need. Rhondda Cynon Taf with no new school opened since 1990 (by Mid Glamorgan its predecessor), did conduct and publish two surveys of unmet need in 2007 without doing anything to respond to the need for two additional streams in spite of past promises. Neath Port Talbot responded early to the first circular by commissioning a survey, but the outcome of the survey has not been published. A second and a third survey were commissioned, showing that demand is far greater than current provision but there has been no speedy or any response. Sadly Carmarthenshire must join the same group in the light of its refusal to expand designated Welsh medium primary provision and its persistence in arguing that its category A schools are also Welsh medium schools which is certainly not the case. Thus currently upwards of 15 children are being refused entry to Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman. There is no Welsh medium primary provision available in vast parts of the county. Pembrokeshire promised a Welsh medium school in the Tenby area, after merging Welsh medium schools in the north of the county. This further unkept promise places this authority among the defaulters, Swansea, after an appalling history between 1960 and 1989, saw an improvement under West Glamorgan which has partly continued since 1996 when Swansea again became independent. Three new primary schools have been opened and a second secondary school. Surveys of unmet need have been undertaken and the results published, one of which has led to a proposed new school in Morriston, rather bizarrely to be of 0.5 FE, But when an English medium school became redundant at Llanmorlais in Gower (a rural area with no Welsh school ) Swansea sold the site rather than open a Welsh medium school in spite of the wishes of 40 parents. Ministerial approval has authorised the extension of two Welsh schools Tirdeunaw and Pontybrenin but to a degree insufficient to provide space to accommodate children already admitted. In giving his approval the Minister comments on the inadequacy of Swanseas proposals. Mediocre is the best verdict on Swanseas response to the new strategy. Bridgend has not opened a new Welsh primary since 1988 but it did open a secondary in 2008. It recognises the need for a further school in the Llynfi valley which it has not yet provided.. Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire have now carried out a survey. Both have improved the buildings of their Welsh Schools, but new schools have not been provided in Tredegar, Monmouth or Usk . Leighton Andrews should write to all but 6 of these authorities reminding them to hold regular surveys of need and to act on the results. His letter to Swansea suggests that he is on the way to doing this.
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Future of Cardiff's third Welsh-medium secondary school safe
RhAG (Parents for Welsh medium Education) have welcomed the fact that Cardiff Council's plans to open the city's third Welsh-medium secondary school in September 2012 will at least go ahead in accordance with the original timetable, if not on the promised site. In contrast to the original proposals, Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern will now be established on the site of Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf for its inaugural year from September 2012, with the intention of relocating to the site currently occupied by St Teilos CiW High School from September 2013 onwards. The feeder schools for the first two years will be Bro Eirwg and Berllan Deg with pupils transferring from Ysgol Pen-y-pil in 2014, and Ysgol Pen-y-groes in 2016 respectively. Said Nona Gruffudd-Evans Chair person for Cardiff RhAG, "While acknowledging that the situation is far from ideal, RhAG feels that this decision ensures the best possible start under the circumstances for Bro Edern, and that all focus should now be placed on ensuring as smooth a transition process as possible for the pupils of the new school. Further to this, we especially wish to acknowledge the significant support of Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf, in particular the head teacher of the school, who have played a pivotal part in resolving this situation." Added Mrs Gruffudd-Evans, "It must be emphasised that Cardiff Council has promised that this arrangement will be in place for a year only, it is therefore imperative that the Council fulfill's its commitment to transfer Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern to its permanent site in September 2013. We also call on the Council to keep its promises of sufficient funding for staffing arrangements and resources to accomodate the new school at Glantaf. The education and well-being of the pupils is of the utmost priority and it must be ensured that this temporary arrangement has no adverse effects on the interests of either school." "Said Michael Jones, RhAG co-ordinator for south east Wales, "The work of appointing a head teacher, to steer the process of establishing the independent identity and organisation of the new school by September 2012, should be acted upon immediately. Naturally, prospective parents have a number of concerns and questions, and the appointment of a head teacher will go some way towards allaying those uncertainties. It is of great concern to RhAG that the current general feeling amongst parents is that of discontentment, and that they have felt alienated during the last few weeks. The dissemination of information in terms of the proposed practical organisation of the school has thus far been sparse and fragmented. For prospective parents of a brand new school access to this information is crucial, especially whilst in the midst of making important decisions about the secondary education paths of their children." "RhAG will continue to hold discussions with the LEA over coming months, to ensure that the driving force behind the arrangements are the interests of pupils and parents. The formation of Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern must from now on, be an open and inclusive process, to ensure that parents play a central part in the education of their children and that the school is given the fairest conditions to establish itself from the onset."
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Parents anxiously await Caerphilly CBC decision on Welsh-medium education
"RhAG parents are anxiously awaiting the outcome of Caerffili CBC's decision on the future of Welsh medium education in the County. The decisions taken by councillors at their meeting on Thursday (today) will have a critical impact on the right of parents to have their children educated through the medium of Welsh within the borough. There is an urgent need to increase WM secondary places within the Caerphilly Basin in order to meet parental demand and to alleviate the pressure on Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni, currently the authority's only WM comprehensive. Parents are understandably distressed at the prospect of insufficient places, and have been let down once before, as a funding shortfall forced the authority to abandon the original proposals intended for the St Ilan site. It is extremely unfair to keep children and parents in such a limbo. Failure to establish a WM provision at the St Ilan site would also go against the main principal underpinning the Welsh Government's Welsh-medium Education Strategy, which aims to see local authorities respond in a planned way to the growing demand for Welsh-medium education. At a time of economic hardship, can it really be justified that an empty, dormant building isn't utilised to provide a core service for the resident's of Caerphilly? Ensuring that a provision is in place by 2013 is a matter of urgency and should therefore be considered of the highest priority."
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RhAG calls for Welsh-medium education to get fair play in the allocation of capital funding
Parents for Welsh medium Education (RhAG) has written to the Education Minister to highlight the unique needs of Welsh-medium education in terms of the Welsh Governments 21st Century Schools programme. This comes from the fact that local authorities have now amended their original SOP bids and resubmitted their priorities for capital funding to the attention of government officials. The programmes main objective is to ensure that Wales schools are fit for purpose and meet the requirements of the 21st century in order to lead to better educational outcomes and the most efficient use of resources. The programme also gives a prominent emphasis on the reduction of surplus places in schools and is considered a central criterion in terms of both the development and evaluation process. Said a spokeperson on behalf of the organisation, "While understanding the general need to address surplus places, we must draw attention to the fact that this requirement is not directly applicable to the situation currently faced by Welsh-medium schools. Overall, it is clear that overcrowded or oversubscribed Welsh-medium schools need funding either to expand or to build additional schools." "Therefore we do not believe that surplus places in other schools should be a criterion in terms of the growth of Welsh-medium education. We are concerned that this criterion might be incorrectly attributed to cases where there is a real need to respond proactively to the growing demand for Welsh-medium education, and where Welsh Government funding is essential in order to allow local authorities to meet that demand. We are concerned that the programme might disadvantage the Welsh-medium sector from the outset if reduction in surplus places is considered the main criterion when scoring applications." "While also recognising that less funding is available, resulting in a heightened sense of responsibility to carefully invest that money, it must be emphasised that decisions made in terms of distributing the programmes funding will have a direct impact on parents wishes to educate their children through the medium of Welsh in many parts of Wales. There are also implications in terms of fulfilling the core principles of the governments Welsh Medium Education Strategy. Without financial support, it will prove very difficult, even impossible in some cases, for local authorities to fulfill their statutory duties and to realise the Strategy's objectives. In fact, some authorities have reached a crisis point where the certainty of government match funding is necessary to allow them to provide sufficient Welsh-medium places in the short-term. Our main concern is that a situation could manifest itself where one Welsh Government policy could undermine the objectives of another." The organisation has asked the Minister for clarification on the status of Welsh-medium education in terms of the criteria for allocating funding to individual authorities within the programme; what specific criteria are in place for the expansion of Welsh medium education in particular and the nature of the discussions held between the Welsh Language Development Unit within the government and the Unit leading on the 21st Century Schools Programme during this evaluation period. "We believe that this dialogue is key, not only to harmonize the objectives of both departments, but in order to realise the Welsh Government's wider aspirations in terms of increased opportunities to access Welsh-medium education."
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Caerphilly RhAG at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay
Ben Jones, Chair person for the Caerphilly branch of RhAG and a delegation of local parents at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay submitting a petition to the attention of William Powell AM, Chair of the Petition's Committee.The petition calls on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Minister for Education and Skills and the Welsh Government to give priority to Caerphilly Council's request for capital funding to ensure sufficient Welsh medium secondary places by 2013.
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Important meesage:Parents of children at Ysgolion Cymraeg, Bro Allta, Penalltau, Trelyn, Bro Sannan, Gilfach Fargod, Cwm Derwen, y Lawnt a Chwm Gwyddon.
As you are probably aware by now, there will not be enough room at Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni for every pupil wishing to start there from 2013 onwards. The County Council has been trying to solve this difficulty for the past two years. The main hope was that the promises implicit in the Assemblys document Iaith Pawb (Everybodys Language) and that the C21st Schools enterprise would yield more resources for Welsh medium education. But as we all now know, none of the local authorities in Wales received any money under this scheme. The Councils original intention was to provide three satellite schools in the county for children aged 11 13 with those children then going on to Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni for the 14 19 phase of their education. The obvious place to start this scheme was Caerffili with the former St Ilans Comprehensive school buildings being empty. This was intended only for pupils from Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili, Ysgol y Castell and Ysgol Ifor Bach. But everyone in the county would have benefitted from this as it would release places at Cwm Rhymni. There was certainly no intention to send children from outside the Caerffili basin to the St Ilans site. In the longer term it was hoped to establish two further 11 13 satellite schools in the County, in order to satisfy the increasing demand for bilingual education. As funding was not forthcoming for this scheme, the county continues to want to use the former St Ilan buildings. But now they propose housing Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili in part of the buildings and utilising the larger part for the education of 11 16 year olds. This school will come under the aegis of Cwm Rhymni with the pupils going on to the Gellihaf site for their Sixth Form studies. A RhAG meeting was held in Caerffili on Tuesday, 15th November. Although it was Caerffili parents who had expressed greatest concer,n the meeting was open to all parents with children in the Welsh schools in Caerffili county. Caerffili parents expressed their support for the revised scheme This plan is to cost 20 million with the local authority is able to afford to foot half the cost. They are calling on the Assembly Government to match this investment. Parents at this meeting were eager to campaign to ensure that this scheme would be implemented. It has to be remembered that while the St Ilan scheme may not impinge directly on pupils from outside Caerffili it does affect them indirectly. If this scheme is successful there will be enough room for pupils from other parts of the county in the mid term. If, however, this plan should fail it wont just be children from the Caerffili district who will be affected, because the countys Admission Policy would then kick in and affect every child hoping for admission to Cwm Rhymnin in 2013 and after that date. This, then, is why RhAG would like to see the Ysgolion Cymraeg from all over the County supporting this campaign to get funding from the Welsh Assembly Government. If you are interested in supporting that campaign, further details will be sent to you from your childs primary school.
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At last a school in Morriston
The school hall was filled to bursting to celebrate the opening of Morriston's first Welsh medium school on Thursday, November 8th. A choir of 26 children from the school sang Welsh schools, and Ysgol Tan y Lan was opened officially by Ioan Richards, the Lord Mayor of Swansea. Each child received a book from RhAG. The school was 64 years in the coming - the campaign to establish a school in the area started that long time ago. In the meantime, Swansea say Ysgol Ln-Las established and flourishing, then Ysgol Gellionnen and Ysgol Tirdeunaw coming to take off the presure, but still Ln-Las grew. Finally, to answer the growing demand for Welsh medium education, at last Ysgol Tan y Lan opened this September. Another 12 children will join the school before the summer, and there are already 15 names down for September. The County has just heard from the Assembly Government that it has permission to start Ysgol y Cwm, between Bonymaen and St Thomas, in September 2012.
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Important message - Caerphilly RhAG meeting - 15.11.11
Important Notice from RHAG A RHAG meeting will take place at 6pm on Tuesday the 15th of November at Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili to discuss the authorities plans regarding Welsh medium education. Councilor Phil Bevan, Cabinet Member for Education will be there to give details of the plan and to answer your questions. This is an important meeting as we will be discussing your childs educational future and so we ask that you make every effort to attend.
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Short-term answer in Caerphilly - letter to parents
RhAG Caerffili sent the following letter to parents of Welsh medium pupils at the beginning of term: Dear Parents, Welcome to a new School Year. Parents in the Caerffili area have received a letter from the Council informing them that there will be room in Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni for children due to start the secondary phase of their education in September 2012. Some will see this as good news but it is also a matter of some concern for us at RhAG. The main reason for our apprehension is that this is, at best, only a temporary solution. This is provision for pupils presently in Year 6 but we have to consider those now in Year 5 and those who are even younger. Also, over loading a school inevitably means that facilities fail to match pupil numbers. We have long suffered this sort of situation in our Ysgolion Cymraeg at primary level, with endless terrapin classrooms. This sort of measure may not be too bad for one year, but what is to happen after that? The National Assembly has also announced that there will be no more money for the C21st School programme until 2014. But Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni will be full again by 2013! The schools Standard Number is 1448 and there are 1435 pupils there already. Not only are there more people now electing to send their children to Welsh medium schools but we are also seeing more pupils staying on for the Sixth Form. (While there are 109 pupils in Year 13 this year the number in Year 12 is 157!) In the meantime, the buildings previously occupied by St Ilans school have now lain empty for about five years. How much more will these buildings deteriorate before money becomes available to tackle the situation? There has been no RhAG meeting this term so far, as we are waiting to learn how the Local Authority proposes reacting to the situation. RhAG officials have been in discussions with the Council since the Assembly announcement in July. This has been very difficult until now with so many people away on holidays. But the picture now emerging is that new proposals will have to be submitted to the Assembly in a bid to secure funding. And the next stop is for the Assembly to announce guidelines for these submissions. These should be available by the end of September. It has also become apparent that there will be no finance to fund the ambitious scheme of three satellite 11 14 schools to feed Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni. Our intention, therefore, is to hold a meeting as and when we have more information. There is little point in meeting until we have something definite to discuss. But, the great worry is that the clock continues to tick with long term, permanent, solutions as far away as ever. You can keep in touch through the RhAG website, www.rhag,net Also, it may be of interest that Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education at the Assembly, will be addressing the RhAG annual conference at Swansea on the 15th October. Some of us will certainly be there. Anyone else interested? Details are available on the website or you are welcome to contact local officers. Ben Jones, RhAG Caerffili
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Powys parents ask Councillors to place Welsh-medium education on the agenda
South Powys RhAG in partnership with North East Powys Welsh Medium Education Movement has produced a special booklet outlining the benefits of Welsh-medium education to the young people and communities of Powys. The booklet has been distributed to the attention of all Powys' Elected Members prior to the special meeting of the full Council whcih will be held on Monday 3 October. The meeting has been convened to discuss the County's Secondary School and Post 16 Modernisation programme. The booklet was produced as a response to the difficult decisions which the Authority must face in terms of school reorganisation, and when Welsh-medium education is discussed, to assist Members to make an informed decision on an issue which will directly impact on those young people who have chosen to receive their education through the medium of Welsh. In light of the current inequalities that exist in relation to Welsh-medium education in Powys, the Secondary School and Post 16 Modernisation consultation is a unique opportunity to review the current provision, especially since one of the main objectives of the modernisation programme is to ensure access to high quality learning opportunities to all learners in Powys (through the medium of English and Welsh). Parents will also be distributing copies of the booklet outside County Hall on Monday morning. end For more information please contact Ceri Owen, RhAG Development Officer on 07912175403. 1. NEPWEM was established in 1982 by a group of parents who wanted to see improved Welsh-medium provision in the area. The main objective was the establishment of designated WM schools. Following the Authoritys decision in 1989 to adopt a dual stream policy the NEPWEM became part of RhAG. 2. There are two local RhAG groups in South Powys, one in Brecon/Sennybridge and the other in Builth Wells and the surrounding area. One of the main aims of both groups is the establishment of a designated WM school in South Powys
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Powys parents in favour of comprehensive Secondary Welsh-medium Education
Recent surveys organised by North East Powys Welsh Education Movement (NEPWEM) and branches of South Powys Parents for Welsh Medium Education (RhAG) have highlighted an unity of opinion amongst hundreds of the countys parents who wish to secure full Welsh-medium education for their children. Two separate surveys held during May disclosed striking results which highlight the failure of the current dual stream policy at secondary level where Welsh-medium education is only provided via streams. Failings which Powys County Council themselves have admitted in a document released as part of their recent secondary modernisation programme consultation. The surveys main findings were that a majority of parents in the north east, 55.7% want to see a designated Welsh-medium secondary school established in the area. From the remaining respondents, 21.5% were eager to receive further information and were willing to consider a designated WM school. Only 22.8% were in favour of retaining the current policy of dual stream provision. In the South of the county 81% were in favour of the establishment of a designated Welsh-medium secondary school in the area, 13% wished to receive additional information and 6% were against the idea. Another significant conclusion was the support of non-Welsh speaking parents to the idea of a designated Welsh-medium secondary school. This represented over 60% of responses from both surveys. This emphasises the good will which exists towards the Welsh language and is consistent with patterns across the whole of Wales. Said Rhisiart Owen on behalf of NEPWEM: Firstly wed like to thank Powys families for partaking in the recent surveys. The main aim of distributing the questionnaires was to offer parents the freedom to express their views honestly and confidentially. We believe that this has been a worthwhile exercise and in light of the number and nature of responses, it is apparent that parents have truly appreciated the opportunity. The results clearly and unambiguously show that parents are in favour of the establishment of Welsh-medium secondary schools in Powys. They have faith and confidence that such schools would not only succeed but would flourish in the future. More than anything, these surveys reflect the true aspirations of local parents in Powys. Another key message which clearly resonates is that parents are eager to see the Authority use the modernisation review as an opportunity to ensure parity and equality for Welsh-medium provision in Powys. Also highlighted was the duality of the current situation where its possible to receive a full WM primary education but where there is no comprehensive linguistic continuity to a comparable provision in the secondary sector. Parents must send their children to neighbouring authorities to access such provision a decision which an increasing number of families have resorted to doing over recent years. Lynne Griffin, Chair of Brecon and Sennybridge RhAG said: The policy which Powys currently has in place disadvantages a significant number of our learners in contrast to the majority of other authorities. It is high time that they remedy this situation to ensure fair and equal opportunities for all children and young people in Powys. We realise that Powys County Council has a number of difficult decisions to make over coming months. It will require a tremendous willingness on their part to make choices which will realise the vision included in their own modernisation document and the strategic targets set by the Welsh Government to increase access to WM education.. This is a golden opportunity to make a historic change for the better, which would for the first time offer the children and young people of Powys the opportunity to access full Welsh-medium education within their local communities.
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Recent developments in Caerphilly - a letter from RhAG
Dear Friend, The following has been written in response to a letter received from a parent who was concerned about the note sent out by RhAG concerning the meeting on March 31st. The content may be of interest to others. The period of consultation is, of course, a matter for the Local Education and not for RhAG. I believe the delay is occasioned by the fact that officers have been waiting for the outcome of bids made to the Assembly government for assistance with the project. We in RhAG hold termly meetings that are open to all parents, and prospective parents, of pupils in Welsh medium schools. These have been particularly well attended recently as parents have been concerned about proposals for Welsh medium education in the County after 2011. I'm sorry that some may have taken exception to the tone of the letter. It was necessary, however, that parents should be made familiar with the situation as it exists which is, briefly as follows, Although we've known since 2002, when the new Cwm Rhymni School was opened, that it would be full by about now, there were no proposals to address this matter before 2008. We in RhAG have pressed for the empty St Ilan's buildings to be utilised, but the biggest obstacle, as ever, was cash. Last year officers of the authority put together a 30m bid to the Assembly. This included the concept of "Middle School" for pupils aged 7 -14. Parents heard about this and reacted angrily against the idea. But as the bid was unsuccessful the idea withered on the vine. Any alternative then had to be financed out of any monies the council could glean from existing funds. This they've attempted to do and came up with enough money to finance a modified scheme. There had been an assumption that the St Ilan site would become a new 11 - 19 Welsh medium comprehensive but in response to the way secondary education has changed in recent years an alternative scheme was devised. I'm personally convinced that this is a superior scheme to the 11-19 option. I say this not only as Chairman of Caerffili County RhAG but as a grandparent. We, as a family, will be affected exactly the same as you, as we too will have three children in three separate schools. However, I still believe this to be a good scheme - and I say this as someone who represents the schools and families and not as one who is part of the education authority. The fact that Years 7,8 and 9 will be at the St Ian site is better than that they should be the start of a new and separate comprehensive. I think parents will be happier that the arrangements at St Ilan will come under the control of the excellent Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni. Also, when these pupils reach Year 10 a school with just 92 pupils in that year would find it impossible to offer a range of some 30 courses as required by the 14 - 19 curriculum. This would mean combining with other schools and involve children being ferried extensively from one site to another. The other factor is that the LEA doesn't have the resources to build an 11 - 19 comprehensive. Along with other officers of RhAG, I've attended a series of working parties on the future shape of education in the County, and examined what is possible and what is desirable. We cannot find another solution to the situation that obtains. I first took up the cudgels on behalf of parents when I first heard rumours of the proposed reorganisation last May, so you can see that my support for the scheme is anything but a knee jerk reaction. I support it as a former headmaster, parent and grand parent, as well as one of your elected RhAG officials. There are many unanswered questions and we hope that many of these will be answered at Thursday's meeting. I look forward to some very lively exchanges! Yours, Ben Jones RhAG Caerphilly Chair
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Primary Welsh-medium Education in Carmarthenshire - a postcode lottery
Parents for Welsh-medium Education (RhAG) has called on Carmarthenshire County Council to tackle the urgent problems which have arisen regarding insufficient places in the authority's designated Welsh-medium schools. A number of families living in the area served by Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman and Ysgol Teilo Sant have been notified that their children have not been allocated places for this coming September. The standard admission number for Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman is 31 pupils and a signifiant number of families have been disappointed that the school will be unable to accept their children. Over recent months, a number of worried parents have contacted RhAG having foreseen that the school would not be able to cope with the likely demand. In fact, RhAG corresponded with the local authority back in April 2010 to highlight this issue as the significant pressure on the schools future capacity was clearly apparent back then. Said Ceri Owen, RhAG National Development Officer,"The basic issue at hand here is that a growing number of Carmarthenshire children are finding themselves unable to gain access to comprehensive primary Welsh-medium education. How can it be justifiable that some children can access comprehensive provision and others from within that community are denied the same opportunities? There is a duty on Carmarthenshire County Council to respond to parental wishes, and if parents note a preference for comprehensive Welsh-medium provision, then they have an obligation to satisfy that demand. Accessing comprehensive primary Welsh-medium provision in Carmarthenshire is currently a postcode lottery and is totally unacceptable." Miss Owen further said, "It is also apparent that the linguistic categories which the local authority have in place do not correspond to Welsh Assembly Government categories which define a Welsh-medium school as one where all subjects are taught in Welsh. The only school in the Rhydaman catchment area where the whole curriculum is taught through the medium of Welsh is Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman. Put simply, there can be no grounds for comparison between the linguistic provision offered at a designated Welsh-medium school and that offered at a transitional or dual stream school. Consequently, offering places at schools which cannot match the provision offered at Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman is unequal and discriminates pupils and families on geographical grounds. It also appears that there seems to be some confusion in regards to the catchment area of Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman, with some families living only a few miles away from the school having been unsuccessful gaining a place in addition to families who live outside the previously considered official catchment area. Said Miss Owen, "The case in point highlights the importance of planning sufficient Welsh-medium places in the area in accordance with the national targets set in WAG's Strategy for Welsh-Medium Education. On one hand there is significant increase in parental demand for comprehensive Welsh-medium education and on the other an apparent unwillingness by the local authority to strategically plan in order to satisfy that growing demand. It is evident that a two pronged approach is needed to address the situation, with short and long term solutions needed to be put in place. Current trend patterns suggest that this parental demand will continue to grow year on year, and without sufficient places, Carmarthenshire parents who wish for their children to be educated wholly through the medium of Welsh will also continue to be disappointed and unfairly discriminated against. Any attempt by the local authority to offer alternative places at schools which are linguistically diluted is not acceptable."
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Wrexham parents voice support for proposed new Gwersyllt Welsh-medium school
A recent public meeting held at Ysgol Plas Coch, Wrexham saw parents united in their support for the proposed establishment of a Welsh-medium school on Delamere Avenue in Gwersyllt. Parents were unanimous in their aspiration for the development of Welsh-medium provision in Wrexham and agreed that the commitment shown by Wrexham County Borough Council to establish a brand new school should be fully supported. Discussion highlighted the fact that demand for Welsh-medium education in the north of Wrexham is on the increase, a fact which is reflected in the growing number of Welsh-medium Parent and Toddler groups (Ti a Fi's) and Cylchoedd Meithrin thriving in the area. It was also emphasised that Ysgol Plas Coch, as the nearest Welsh-medium school, is unable to meet the increasing demand amongst local parents who are choosing Welsh-medium education for their children and that as a result the school has had to resort to portacabins as a short term measure to alleviate the situation. It was reiterated that the only viable solution in the long term is to establish a new school in the area which will consequently ease the current pressures. The new school will ensure that provision will be local and accessible and will contribute towards satisfying growing parental demand in the area for Welsh-medium education. A motion was also passed in favour of establishing a Parents for Welsh-medium Education (RhAG) group in the area to channel support for the proposed new school and all future developments regarding Welsh-medium provision in Wrexham. Said Jeremy Salisbury, newly elected Chair person of RhAG Wrexham,"I'm really pleased to be involved with RhAG and looking forward to working with them and the LEA, ensuring parents have the ability to choose Welsh-medium education for their children and when they do make that choice that it meets the high standards which we all want." The new RhAG Wrexham group will meet again in the new year prior to a Planning Committee meeting held on 10th January 2011 which will discuss the planning application for the new school. Anyone interested in attending the RhAG meeting is most welcome and should contact Jeremy Salisbury on 07540169242 / jeremy.salisbury@talktalk.net for further details.
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RhAG Caerffili Branch Bulletin - latest news (January 2011)
Some 50 parents, teachers and supporters of Welsh medium education came to Ysgol Bro Alltas hall in Ystrad Mynach on Monday, 24th january. There was a noticeably strong representation of Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili and Ysgol y Castell parents who were anxious to learn more about the Local Authoritys proposals for their childrens education. Caerffili Education Authority announced proposals during the Summer on how they wanted to deal with the enormous growth in the demand for Welsh medium education in the county. 420 pupils were expected to start in our schools Nursery classes in September. This number has been achieved through constant and regular growth in demand over a number of years, and is not a phenomenon restricted to this year only. This means that the number of children in our Welsh medium primary schools will reach 3,360 in 8 years time. And this doesnt take into account the regular 8% growth that takes place in these schools at this time. This is over a 1,000 more than the current number! To satisfy this demand the Authority proposed creating Middle Schools. This would involve Key Stage 2 children moving on to these schools at the age of 7 to join Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils. i.e schools for 7 14 year olds. By establishing 3 such schools, space would be released in the primary schools by these becoming Foundation Phase schools for 3 7 year old pupils. This idea would also be a means of tackling the problem arising as Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni reaches its full growth of 1,480 pupils. A bid was placed before the National Assembly for financial aid for this scheme which was estimated to cost 30m for the Caerffili town area in the first instance. (This also included provision for the local school.) These proposals proved unpopular with parents who felt they didnt want to see children as young as 7 in the same school as 14 year olds. This would also involve children having to travel at a younger age than is the case at the moment. As the hopes of financial help grew ever fainter and in response to parental resistance, the Authority adjusted the plan. Now they want to adapt the St Ilans school buildings to enable Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili to occupy the Gwyndy block when it has been modernised. Pupils from Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili, Ysgol y Castell and Ysgol Ifor Bach will then move into the Phoenix block on the St Ilan site for their education in Years 7, 8 and 9, before transferring to Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni for the 14 19 curriculum. At the 24th January meeting parents expressed a number of reservations. Many felt that their children would be at a disadvantage in transferring to Ysgol Gyfun, in joining with peers who would, by then, have been on that campus for three years. Others feared that Ysgol Gyfuns attempts to include their children in activities at the Gellihaf site would entail undue travelling for pupils and teachers. Others felt that matters were regressing to what they were when Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni was situated on two sites. A number of parents wanted to know to what extend their children would then be part of activities with their peers in Cwm Rhymni and to what extent these activities would be held apart. It was also felt that pupils often selected subjects because they knew the individual teachers and wouldnt be able to do this under the proposed set up. In expressing their reservations, all could appreciate the difficulties facing the authority as they sought to deal with a situation that has arisen due to the success of Welsh medium teaching in the county. Some parents asked why the St Ilan site couldnt be used as a Year 7 and 8 or a Sixth Form unit. Questions were also asked about travelling arrangements and starting times in various schools to see how they could organise taking their children to school and then collecting them. RhAG officers and Mr Owain ap Dafydd, Head of Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni, were able to answer a number of questions and to allay some fears. But it was seen that teachers and county officials would need to work at several aspects before the scheme could be realised. We now look forward to meeting County officials, and are pleased that something is, at last, being done about our overflowing schools. Also, the hope that the Gwyndy site can be used to facilitate secondary Welsh medium education in Caerffili town. The following officers were elected to serve RhAG in Caerffili . Chairman - Ben Jones Vice Chairman - Owain ap Dafydd Secretary - Lowri Jones Minute Secretary - David Phillips Treasurer - Tony Wilding Assistant Treasurer - Eleri Llwyd Dafydd
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RhAG sets challenge for next Welsh Assembly Government
Today the national organisation Parents for Welsh medium Education (RhAG) launched its manifesto for the 2011 National Assembly of Wales Elections. In the document the organisation calls for a new Welsh Education Measure which would enshrine the rights of parents to educate their children through the medium of Welsh. RhAG would also wish to see the Welsh Assembly Government intervene when a Local Authority fails to fulfil the requirements of the Welsh-medium Education Strategy launched by the Minister for Education in April of this year. The manifesto also highlights the difficulties which continue to impede the growth and development of Welsh-medium education across the whole of Wales. These include problems involving measuring parental demand and acting upon the findings, a lack of adequate forward-planning, linguistic continuity, transport issues, promoting the advantages of Welsh-medium education and supporting parents who choose Welsh-medium education for their child. During challenging economic times with both central and local government facing severe financial restraints, the manifesto also suggests more creative options to accelerate the growth of Welsh-medium education by adopting the 'starter classes' model which Cardiff has successfully implemented over recent years. Said Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chair person, "This manifesto incorporates our experiences as an organisation and the problems which continue to stifle the growth of Welsh-medium education in extensive parts of Wales. Naturally we welcome the recent launch of the Welsh-medium Education Strategy which for the first time sees central government taking responsibility for the work of strategically planning the response to the increasing demand for Welsh-medium education. Consequently we wish to challenge the next Assembly Government as well as all local authorities to ensure that they fulfil their duties and adhere to the promises made to Wales' parents regarding the chosen language of their children's education." "Recent evidence suggests that local authorities planning for Welsh-medium education aren't giving this Strategy the necessary attention. One great concern is the lack of any related statutory requirements. This could lead to a situation where the Strategy exists but the Welsh Assembly Government has no powers in its possession to fully implement its targets and that local authorities will continue to neglect their duties." "Last week heralded a significant milestone in the history of the Welsh language with Assembly Members voting in favour of recognising its official status within the new Welsh Language Measure. With the launch of the Welsh-medium Education Strategy this year in addition to the forthcoming Welsh Language Strategy it is our view that all these elements must be fully aligned. Many aspects of the aspirations included in the Welsh Language Strategy cannot be fulfilled if the Education Strategy doesn't effectively increase the number of speakers and workforce with the necessary linguistic skills. RhAG would therefore wish to see the collaboration between all three of these crucial strands reinforced. Welsh-medium education has been recognised as the main instrument responsible for reversing the ebb in the number of Welsh speakers and it is clear that the future of the Welsh language is dependent on ensuring the best conditions for Welsh-medium education to develop and thrive. Where parental demand continues to drive the growth of Welsh-medium education, local authorities under clear guidance from the Welsh Assembly Government must respond to that demand appropriately."
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Local Authority's lack of vision for development of Welsh-medium primary education
The local Neath Port Talbot branch of the organisation Parents for Welsh Medium Education (RhAG) has sent an urgent letter to the attention of Councillors and Education Officers in relation to the development of Welsh-medium education within the Authority. In the letter the branch highlights their concern regarding the recent proposals to reorganise education within the county. These proposals contain an intention to consider opening a second Welsh medium secondary school, in the southern part of the county, a welcome development, as it will at last offer Welsh medium education locally to the large numbers of pupils who live in this area. However, these proposals lack any commitment to meet the large demand for Welsh medium education in the primary sector. The Assemblys Welsh Medium Education Strategy has noted that Neath Port Talbot needs to increase its primary provision by 30% by 2015, which equates to some 600 additional places, in order to meet the demand which has already been identified. Said Eirian Youngman, Chairperson of the Neath Port Talbot RhAG branch: "The county, in their own internal survey, note that parental demand for Welsh medium education is in excess of 40%, and that a number of schools in the south of the county are already full indeed, in three schools the demand for places is almost double the official admission numbers, and the places which are available at the moment. Despite this overwhelming evidence, no proposals have been put forward to tackle this demand, and create more Welsh medium school places in the primary sector in the southern region of Neath Port Talbot. RhAG feels strongly that the new Welsh medium primary schools for which the demand is great should be situated in the Resolven and Llandarcy/Skewen areas, where the demand is at its highest. "In order to ensure funding for new primary schools, it is critical that the countys bid to the Assembly for capital funding, which must be presented to the Assembly by mid December, includes proposals for new primary provision. Indeed, Local Authorities are expected to consider future demand for, and access to, Welsh medium provision when planning to change school provision, and making proposals for the Twenty First Century Schools Programme. Other counties are already including Welsh medium education as part of their bids. Cardiff, for example, are presenting a 9m scheme for a new school for Canton as part of their application. "We call upon Councillors and Officers to ensure that the application for capital funding includes proposals to expand Welsh medium primary education in Neath Port Talbot, in order to meet parental demand and ensure equal opportunities for every child to receive his or her education through their chosen medium in their own locality."
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RhAG welcomes Cardiff Council announcement on Treganna
Cardiff RhAG (Parents for Welsh Medium Education) has welcomed the announcement made by Cardiff Council this week outlining their intention to build a brand new Welsh-medium school. The future of Welsh-medium education in the West of the city received a significant boost this week with the announcement of the Council's intention to satisfy the increasing demand for Welsh-medium education in the Canton area. Following a long and arduous campaign, parents from Ysgol Gymraeg Treganna and sister school Ysgol Tan-yr-Eos learnt that the Council intend to build a new school on Council owned land on Sanatorium road at the cost of approx 9m. Responding to the announcement, Nona Gruffudd Evans Chair of Cardiff RhAG said, "We certainly welcome this long awaited announcement and the fact that things finally seem to be moving on is certainly a constructive step in the right direction. Obviously this exciting development must be tempered by a great deal of caution since the success of the proposal is so dependant on WAG funding. We sincerely hope that the Welsh Assembly Government can now positively respond to the only realistic option left on the table to resolve the growth of Welsh-medium education in Canton." "Assurity must be now be sought from WAG confirming their original commitment to collaborate closely with Cardiff Council to find a tangible solution and that this will lead to ensuring the necessary funding to get the project off the ground. The situation in Canton is one obvious part of a much wider rise in demand for Welsh-medium education across the whole of Cardiff, particularly in the west of the city, and moving to solve the current issues there will inadvertently allow the council to get to grips with other areas which also need urgent attention. We cannot over emphasise that the realisation of this proposal is dependant on a close working partnership with WAG and an over arching desire to succeed from both parties." She went on to say, "This announcement is also significant as it not only offers much needed stability to parents of current pupils at the schools but also to parents of future pupils. Following years of uncertainty, reinstating confidence amongst the ever increasing numbers of local parents choosing Welsh-medium education for their children is crucial. The importance of this week's announcement therefore represents a development with far reaching consequences." But Mrs Gruffudd Evans warned, "It must be recognised that this scheme won't transpire over night, and consequently an interim plan must be put in place to alleviate the current unacceptable conditions during the period leading up to the opening of the proposed new school in 2013. With this in mind, RhAG will continue to work closely with parents, Cardiff Council and WAG officers to ensure that this week's announcement is realised and done so in line with the outlined timetable."
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