Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Put up or shut up on Welsh-medium education

Three weeks I wrote this post asking whether Welsh-medium education was a council priority for certain officers.
It helped spur a great deal of positive movement within the council to put forward plans for a bid for Welsh Government money to provide a new Welsh-medium school in the north of the county (effectively Llay or Gwersyllt).
The basis for such a new school could not be clearer. As well as an independent survey of parents in 2007 demonstrating demand, there are presently 138 children from Gwersyllt and Llay in either Ysgol Plas Coch or Ysgol Bodhyfryd, both in town. That has led to mobile classrooms in Ysgol Plas Coch to meet the demand - the school is now taking an intake of 60 per year as a temporary measure.
Despite this clear evidence, Labour councillors showed a fierce resistance to the facts. The demand for Welsh-medium education was described as "anecdotal" and there were dire warnings of building a 210-strong school that would be "half empty".
This line of attack then extended to talking of Welsh-medium education being "segregationalist" and that communities would be divided unless Welsh-medium education took place within English-medium schools. This would place Wrecsam out of step with mainstream thinking on bilingual education and, in a predominantly English-speaking area, it's understand that creating an Welsh-speaking environment in school is vital.
It's time for Labour to put up some facts to back up their views on this subject.
Unfortunately their opposition extended, in the end, to proposing an amendment that the bid for the Welsh-medium school be excluded from the funding application to the Welsh Government. Thankfully that narrow-minded and frankly spiteful move was voted down 7-2 but it's clear from today that Labour in Wrecsam remains a party opposed to the expansion of Welsh-medium education.


S Andrews said...

This is disgraceful and shocking. Why on earth is Labour in Wrecsam against having children taught in Welsh in a Welsh medium school therefore becoming fully bilingual citizens.

After all it's mainly English speaking parents who want their children to be fluent in both languages. I'm sure the media and the Assembly government would be interested in local Labour cllrs opposition. Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

We have had Welsh med schools since the 1960's without any problems. Same old Labour dinosaurs, stuck in the past, but times have changed, we have moved on, it seems some Labour cllr haven't though.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

The One Wales Government recently launched the Welsh Medium Education Strategy (Leighton Andrews AM Labour Education Minister)which promotes WME. The problem is that local Labour parties (Wrecsam/Cardiff/Swansea) don't follow their party's national line on WME and other things as well. The Wlsh Labour Party is tribalism at its worst, the national interest doesn't feature in their plans in Wales anymore than it does in Westminster.

Anonymous said...

As an adult Welsh Learner I can see the benefits of an additional WMS in Wrecsam,and will be sending my son to WMS when he reaches school age. As a primary teacher in an EMS I do worry what will happen to jobs should pupil numbers in EMS dip due to the additional WMS in Wrexham.

Plaid Whitegate said...

Anon @10.28 - the danger is that, unless we have that new school, there will be no room for your child in a Welsh medium school in Wrecsam. It's apparent that demand is outstripping supply.
The dip in English-medium schools (currently 50 or so compared to 5 WMS) would be minimal as a result of a new WMS opening.
My big concern with Labour's attitude was that it was trying to play up this "threat" and promote division.

Rhys W said...

Here is the offical WAG statement regarding Welsh education, "Education is important, and a national Welsh medium education strategy was published on 20 April. It sets the strategic direction with regard to improving the planning of Welsh medium education, and improving the provision for teaching Welsh as a second language. We are also looking to update our broader strategy for promoting and facilitating the use of Welsh, with the aim of building upon Iaith Pawb." I wonder what the minister in charge, Leighton Andrews, will make of the backward and blinkered Labour cllrs in Wrexham?