Steady Progress in Cardiff

I hardly think this will be a great surprise, but Cardiff Council have just confirmed that there were no statutory objections to the proposal to build new three form entry premises for Ysgol Treganna on the Sanitorium Road site. This means everything can go ahead without further reference to the Welsh government.

They've also announced that they're going to consult on extending the age range of three primaries to include a nursery class. Two of the three—Ysgol Pen y Groes and Ysgol Pen y Pîl—are recently established Welsh-medium schools. In the words of the news release:

Demand for provision continues to grow and there is need for a long term solution to accommodate the growth.


The establishment of a nursery at the school will help meet local demand for high quality, Welsh-medium nursery education.

Onwards and upwards.

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Lionel said...

they also need to get their finger out and look at provision for Grangetown/Butetown. Treganna will fill up in no time and will provide little if no relief for Pwll Coch

MH said...

I agree, Lionel. Though Cardiff are also planning to increase the size of Pwll Coch from 2FE to 3FE. The problem is finding a suitable site. As Grangetown/Butetown is one of the areas of population growth, there is no real prospect of an existing school closing.

3FE primary schools are too big for my liking, but increasing size on existing sites does at least increase WM capacity, and that's the more important thing.

In a comment I wrote when the Treganna proposal was published, I said that it was likely Cardiff would do the same elsewhere, for example at Ysgol Y Wern which has only just become 2FE with the closure of Cefn Onn. Had I been more diligent, I'd have realized that Cardiff were already planning to do it. This is what it says in their bid for 21st Century funding:

"This WM school has already been formally agreed for an increase in capacity up to 2FE. Demand is however in excess of 2FE and therefore it is proposed that Ysgol Y Wern capacity be increased to 3FE to provide sufficient capacity for the long term future. Statutory consultation on this proposal is due to take place 2011."

There's a sense of urgency in that the LibDems are likely to suffer very badly in the 2012 elections. A lot of the positive progress Cardiff have made on WM provision has been as a result of the the LibDems having to rely on Plaid in coalition. Although I expect Plaid to pick up seats, it is quite likely that Labour will regain control of the council and the current expansion of WM education will then be put on the back burner. So I'd like to see at least a couple of proposals for new starter schools in the next month or so.

Welsh Agenda said...

The current make up of Cardiff Council is

Lib Dem 35
Conservative 17
Labour 13
Plaid 7
Ind 3

With the Lib Dem/Plaid coalition having a majority of 5 (assuming the chair doesn't vote) and so could survive a net loss of 4 seats before they lose power.

Labour would have to gain an additional 24 seats, more than doubling its total to take control of the council, or convince someone else to go into coalition with them.

Incidentally the gossip from the Cardiff Lib Dems is both they and Plaid will lose seats, but that the Lib Dems will remain the largest party although they will be 'forced' (their word) to strike a deal with the Tories.

Considering that the Lib Dems and Plaid have largely mutually exclusive core areas I wouldn't be surprised if they both start to encourage tactical voting.

MH said...

Thanks WA, I stand corrected. I didn't realize Labour were so far behind. Perhaps I was thinking of their clean sweep in the Assembly elections.

All sorts of possibilities.

Lionel said...

Libde, Plaid, Tory to keep Labour out. Labour Plaid possibly. Either way, Plaid need to be in there. I don't think anyone would disagree that more has been achieved during the Libdem/Plaid administration, despite Labour's legacy than previously. labour on their own are not to be trusted with WM education. There is too much anti-Welsh hatred still within old Dinosauric Labour in local government. the only way to get action out of them is forcing them through coalition agreements. In opposition though they show their true colours. Look at Flintshire and the Treganna debacle.
Incidentally MH, was not one of the village schools, Creigiau or Gwaelod y Garth supposed to be converting to WM soon? I'm sure i read it in one of your previous blogs.

MH said...

I'm sure that both Creigiau and Gwaelod y Garth are dual stream, Lionel. I don't know of any plans to change that, but if someone else does, please leave a comment.

As for Labour, they can do OK when in coalition with Plaid. A few Plaid councillors can make a big difference. Jeff Rees and the other two Plaid concillors at Torfaen are a good example of that; first with Panteg and hopefully with the new school at the old steelworks.

For those who don't know what's happening in Fflint, Plaid Wrecsam did a good post on the subject last week.

Lionel said...

apologies MH, I obviously didn't get it from your good self. I did find this article, but it dates from 2006 and the plan may have become a casualty of the same wranglings that hit Treganna. Any ideas?

Dylan said...

Will today's news on '21st Century Schools' impact on the plans for Treganna?

@Welsh Agenda - one small change since Gwenllian Lansdown stood down: Labour +1, Plaid Cymru -1

MH said...

Thanks for the link, Lionel. The only indication I could find for the numbers in both streams in Gwaelod y Garth is from the 2007 Estyn report. 131 out of 180 were in the WM stream, leaving less than 50 in the EM stream. So I'm not surprised that there were thoughts about making it entirely WM. But the school does have surplus spaces, so it's not as if any local children wanting a WM education are being denied a place, and therefore I'm relaxed about it. When it gets to the point where there are too few in the EM stream to make it viable, that will be the time to switch.


Yes, I don't think it was a surprise that 21st Century Schools had to be revised, Dylan, but I think it was a bit over-the-top to scrap it completely. I'd have considered the Band A and maybe the Band B proposals on their current merits, but spread over a longer timeframe, and asked the LEAs to "go back to the drawing board" for their longer term priorities. The announcement today has just consigned a lot of hard work to the waste paper basket.

But the WG has published a budget for the next three years to 2014, and the committed projects should be safe. That will include Treganna. The problem will come later. For example, Leighton Andrews has just given approval for a starter school at Maindee Primary in Newport on a temporary basis until Newport can find a permanent home for it. The two starter schools in the Vale of Glamorgan will also be in temporary accommodation to begin with and will quickly outgrow it.

LEAs will now have much less opportunity to solve their WM expansion issues by building new schools, and the only option will therefore be to convert existing EM schools or resort to more and more temporary accommodation. Friction all round. But I don't think Labour in Cardiff Bay will care. They'll just be happy to blame the Tories in Westminster for everything.

LEAs will just have to look to other sources for the money, but they (unlike the Welsh Government) are able to borrow. That's what they'll have to do. The best way they could do it is via a not for distributable profit model like Build for Wales.

MH said...

If anyone's still reading this thread, I've just had some information from StatsWales on the numbers in Years 1 to 6 doing Welsh First Language and Welsh Second Language in Cardiff's two dual stream schools as of January 2011:

Gwaelod y Garth: 163 total, 126 WFL, 37 WSL
Creigiau: 285 total, 123 WFL, 162 WSL

That means that there are only about six children in each year group in the English stream at GyG. My guess would be that the years double up to make three classes of twelve. That's getting towards the lowest point at which the stream would continue to be viable.

Lionel said...

that's kind of what I figured and the council have seen this coming, to their credit. Hopefully the numbers choosing WM can tip the balance soon. I think Groesfaen kids go to Creigiau as well, so that would explain the larger numbers overall there. Interesting on Radio Cymru's 'Manylu' programme this week about the demand in Tredegar,for a school, with Bro Helyg being so far away and losing kids from the nurseries in the area into EM, due to the travel distance.

MH said...

Thanks for telling me about Manylu, Lionel. I'd missed it, but I've just listened to it on iPlayer and I've put a copy of it here for future reference.

I'll try and find out more on what's happening in Tredegar. But I did make some suggestions on a new WM primary in Ebbw Vale in this post last December.

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