Council chiefs have been branded as short-sighted and obstinate for not meeting demand for pupils wanting Welsh-medium education in Wrexham.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said:
“The council’s own Welsh in Education Strategic Plan for 2014-17 admits that about 21.7% of parents surveyed in the county want their children to receive Welsh-medium education. At present only 11% are in Welsh-medium schools and I have serious concerns that growing demand in the future will lead to greater problems if they’re not addressed now. “As the council knows, it takes time to get funding for a new school. It should be consulting now on future demand in the next five or 10 years. By 2023, when the present boom will have hit Ysgol Morgan Llwyd, it’s anticipated that there will be up to 1250 pupils there. We know large superschools can have problems and I fear that the quality of education at Morgan Llwyd will suffer unless the council starts planning now for a second Welsh-medium school in the county.“I’m aware of parents who are considering moving out of county to guarantee a Welsh-medium education for their children and others who despair at the uncertainty of it all. The council claims that this is the case as well for pupils in English-medium schools but this is a poor excuse for what is obviously a pressing problem. It doesn’t make sense that none of the children, for example, in the Summerhill Cylch Ti a Fi were offered a nursery place in their nearest school, Ysgol Bro Alun.“If the council will not alter its intransigent stance, I will be asking Huw Lewis, the education minister, to carry out an independent review of the council’s policies because of concerns raised about the failure to implement its own Strategic Plan.”
Plaid Cymru’s Wrexham spokersperson Carrie Harper said:
“The council acknowledges demand is growing at a steady pace for Welsh-medium education in the county. It has increased the numbers of places available and Ysgol Bro Alun has opened in the past three years to meet that increased demand. That’s the good news. “However, the council is failing to plan ahead to meet future demand. All but one of the reception classes in the county’s six Welsh-medium primary schools are now full to the brim, with just four places left in Ysgol Bodhyfryd. Parents living within a mile of a school are being refused access because of demand and we know of others who aren’t even putting their names down for Welsh-medium schools because they live too far away from them.“It’s not good enough for the council to say there are places for pupils when it means splitting up families and having to be in two places at one time. That raises questions about safeguarding children that senior council officers should be aware of but they continue to refuse to act. Council officers and lead members are being obstinate and short-sighted in failing to meet demand.“There is a sensible, short-term solution while extra capacity is being built by 2018 in Ysgol Plas Coch – why not temporarily open up spare classrooms in Ysgol Bro Alun to meet demand?”