More than 40% want Welsh-medium education

This is from the online edition of the South Wales Evening Post:

A Second Welsh language secondary school could be built in Neath and Port Talbot. It will mean an end to long and tiring journeys for pupils to and from the county’s only Welsh-medium secondary school, in the upper Swansea Valley.

Education director Karl Napieralla said demand for Welsh-medium education was exceeding capacity in some parts of the county.

“Research indicates more parents would seek Welsh-medium education for their children where schools are easily accessible,” he said. “Early indications from a survey of parents suggested more than 40 per cent of them would prefer Welsh-medium education for the children.”

South Wales Evening Post, 20 October 2010

There seem to be two strands to the story. In terms of secondary education, NPT has one WM secondary at Ystalyfera in the Swansea Valley. The decision to provide a new one seems mostly to be predicated on the decision to seek funding to build a new English-medium secondary to replace Cwrt Sart, Glan Afan and Sandfields. As we can read here, these three schools are in poor condition and in need of about £13m of repair work. They also have a huge number of surplus places. The intention is that the new WM secondary would be located on one of the vacated sites.

Obviously the proposals are welcome, but they are expensive. The new school would cost £27m, and the work to remodel one of the existing schools probably takes up most of the rest of NPT's £40m bid. There must at least be a question mark over this as a result of the UK government's spending cuts ... although it is certainly not out of the question. It strikes me that a sensible Plan B would be to close one of the three EM schools and move pupils to the other two, which have plenty of surplus space; then convert the third into a WM school. But the existing buildings will still need £13m of repair work.


But to me the more important and more encouraging part of the story is that 40% of parents of children who are not yet at school want them to have a WM education. There is no more detail as yet, but my guess would be that WM primary provision is relatively good in the more sparsely populated north of the county—which has good concentrations of Welsh speakers and a pattern of small traditional WM primaries—but sorely lacking in the south, which has just one WM primary in Neath and one in Port Talbot.

I believe that one of the three primary schools in the new Coed Darcy development will be a WM primary, and that NPT had thought that this would take care of some of the existing demand as well as the new demand from the development. Very clearly it won't. It will struggle to meet the demand from within the development.

This 40% is existing demand from parents who live in NPT. So the biggest question for the council now is how to provide more WM primaries, particularly in the south of the county.

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Simon Brooks said...

Good post. Agree 100%. But over the next 2 or 3 weeks we need to concentrate on S4C. You know my commitment to WM education as a Treganna parent, but we need to move our resources over to broadcasting during this worrying period.

Could you do us 2 or 3 of your excellent articles on broadcasting? Destroy the Government/BBC's case intellectually, and those of us who read the blog will make sure these arguments are disseminated widely.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Could this be the joint Swansea/ NPT WM school? In the south of the county NPT certainley needs to radically increase the amount of WM education it provides.

While I agree with the above that S4C is very important it doesnt mean that very important long term issues like WM education should be ingnored.

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