Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The challenge for Welsh-medium education in Wrecsam

The past few years have seen two significant advances for Welsh-medium education in Wrecsam. One was the long-overdue decision to open a new Welsh-medium primary school in Gwersyllt, which will take the pressure off Ysgol Plas Coch in Rhosddu. This school currently houses 420 pupils instead of the 210 it was built to accommodate. The new school will take pupils from Gwersyllt, Summerhill and Llay and will rapidly fill up as there is huge demand in that area.
 The other key decision in the last council was to ignore Estyn's demands for two of the Ceiriog Valley's schools to be closed due to debatable "surplus places". The technical surplus ignored the very real community benefits from having schools in Pontfadog, Llanarmon and Glyn Ceiriog rather than centralising education in the valley in Glyn Ceiriog, where pupils are already being taught in mobile classrooms.
 The previous council wisely decided to maintain all three schools.

 The new Labour-Independent coalition, with backing from the Tories, is - at best - indifferent to the Welsh language. In some cases councillors are actively hostile to meeting parental demand for more Welsh-medium education, as was seen with the long-running battle to establish the new school in Gwersyllt.

Long-term planning for education means that primary school demands eventually turn into secondary school demands. There is a compelling case for a second secondary school in the south of the county to serve the Rhosllannerchrugog/Johnstown/Penycae/Rhiwabon area specifically. It will be interesting to see whether councillors and LEA officers take up that challenge.

Equally, there are renewed calls from Estyn to deal with "surplus places". Will Labour take the easy option and decide to close two small rural schools in Pontfadog and Llanarmon, regardless of their community importance and the fact that Llanarmon is the only natural Welsh-speaking school in the entire county? The independent councillor for Ceiriog has thrown in her hat with the Labour group but it remains to be seen how much influence she has within the ruling coalition.


Plaid Gwersyllt said...

A very aptly timed blog bearing in mind that it seems that Cynddelw, Tregeiriog and Pontfadog have been federalised under one headteacher already who is the current head of Cynddelw. It seems that the head of Pontfadog AND Tregeiriog didn't get a look in for the post of Deputy either. Be interesting to see how many governors from Pontfadog and Tregeiriog were on the selection panel?

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Just spoken to Cllr Barbara Roberts in Glyn Ceiriog and she didn't know anything about this until after the events. It seems there was no consultation. This is the first step in closing Llanarmon and Pontfadog.