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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 Cwmbrân 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 Authority’s 21st century School’s 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."



[1] Welsh Assembly Government, Welsh-medium Education Strategy, Document No: 083/2010, April 2010, p.13

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