Four more Welsh-medium schools

As this is the start of a new school year, I thought it would be good to celebrate the new Welsh-medium schools that are opening their doors for the first time.

Ysgol Tan-y-lan, Swansea

This is the first new WM school to open in Swansea since Llwynderw in 2002, and it is long overdue. Morriston is one of the parts of Swansea with the where the demand for WM education is strongest, but this is the first school in the area.



As we can see from the photographs, it is by no means a large school. When it was home to Graig Infants, it had a capacity of 113 which would imply an admission number of about 14.

But the demand for places at the school far outstrips that. As we can read here, the school will start with 20 children, and another 15 are due to start after Christmas and Easter. So it seems very clear that Swansea are having to admit children on a basis that will be unsustainable in the long term. They will therefore need either to open another school or find new premises for this school within about three years.

Swansea are set to open another new Welsh-medium school in Bon-y-maen on the east side of the city next year. However I still think that the best solution to meet the demand in and around Morriston will be to re-open Arfryn Primary as a WM school and adjust the catchment areas accordingly.

Seedling School at Maindee Primary, Newport

This new school is Newport's third WM primary and is being housed within Maindee Primary, just behind the Rodney Parade rugby ground, which has a very large number of surplus places. The school at Bettws, Ysgol Ifor Hael, was only opened in 2008.


There will be space for an annual intake of 17 children, although I'm don't know how many are starting this week. Eventually Newport will have to find a permanent location for the school, probably within three years.

Ysgol Dewi Sant, Llanilltud Fawr, Vale of Glamorgan

This is one of two new WM schools established in the Vale of Glamorgan this year. They are both described as "Starter Schools" and are in temporary buildings. This one is just next to the comprehensive school and leisure centre in Ham Lane East. No photographs as yet, but these are the plans:


I have to say that, as temporary buildings go, the quality is very much higher than would usually be expected. The layout is good, and I've been told that everybody is pleased with how light and airy the space inside is. There are 18 children starting this week, and if the numbers grow as expected it will need to be extended in a couple of years time.

It's perhaps worth noting that this sort of solution can be implemented very quickly. Only ten weeks ago, local MP Alun Cairns and headteacher Helen Jennings were standing in an empty playing field. Then the new school arrived on the back of six lorries.


Ysgol Gwynfor, Y Barri, Vale of Glamorgan

This starter school is the grounds of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg. The design is identical to Dewi Sant, except that an additional double classroom unit has already been added, and the plan is for a further extension to be added in due course. As with Ysgol Dewi Sant, headteacher Sian Owen is very impressed with the standard of accommodation.


There are 17 children in the reception class, and another 10 in the nursery with more expected after Christmas and Easter.

The school has been given the temporary name of Ysgol Nant Talwg, but I'm sure that this is only because it isn't yet housed in a permanent building worthy of Gwynfor Evans' name.


Although the quality of both these demountable buildings is very high, they will eventually need to be replaced by permanent buildings, almost certainly on the same site. But when this happens, there is absolutely nothing to stop them being moved to a new site to start another new school, either in the Vale or somewhere else.

A few years ago, the Vale of Glamorgan undertook a comprehensive survey of parental wishes regarding Welsh-medium education, found that the demand was much higher than their current provision and, to their credit, then acted quickly to meet the need. This is an innovative solution, and other local authorities could learn from what they've done.


Maybe four new schools are not as many as we'd like to see, but every one is a step forward. They represent the hard work of those who have campaigned for them, often for many years, and that's something to thank them for and celebrate.

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CDavies said...

Don't forget the new Welsh medium primary school being built in Gwersyllt, Wrecsam. Things are definitely looking up for the Welsh language.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Welsh-medium education will continue to grow in Swansea. We need another urban Welsh language community that can compete with Cardiff.

Jac o' the North, said...

For that to happen we'll need the jobs to keep them in Swansea.

MH said...

Gwersyllt is definitely one for next year, CD. Plus the new enlarged Treganna and the new primary unit at Llanhari. I think the new enlarged Ffwrnes in Llanelli will be built by then, and the enlarged Dafydd Llwyd in Newtown. Plus the third WM secondary in Cardiff at St Teilo's and the new 11-14 school at St Ilan, Caerffili.

There were five new schools last year, so the picture is of steady growth.

And as well as that, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that another half dozen schools have had to put up additional temporary classrooms. If anyone can give some examples, please leave a comment.


Swansea has exasperated me for years. The new Llwynderw is wonderful (though it should have been bigger) but Swansea seemed to think it was all they needed to do. The attitude seems to be changing. They are intending to increase the capacity of three existing three, but as the buildings are full this can only be done with temporary accommodation. Meanwhile, they'll still have two school buildings sitting empty at Llanmorlais and Arfryn.

Strategic development of WM education ... well, that's one new job!

C.Davies said...

Agree, seeing the pictures, its quite shocking how small the school is. Sardines springs to mind.

Peter Black said...

Llwynderw would have been bigger but the Welsh Government vetoed the original plans and insisted that it be reduced in size after strenuous objections by West Cross Councillors and some Labour AMs.

The intention is to relocate Ysgol Tan-y-Lan to larger premises in due course.

MH said...

I fully accept that, Peter. Limiting Llwynderw to 1.5FE was Jane Davidson's decision.

And I have been critical of Swansea, but with Tan-y-lan and Bon-y-maen, things are now moving forward. Like all authorities, cash for building new schools is not going to be that abundant, so I would urge you to think about what to do with the buildings at Arfryn in particular, but also Llanmorlais.

It's not just the overall number of places that counts. It's the travel distance too. So having schools in more locations is going to do more for the expansion of WM education than making the ones you have bigger.

Anonymous said...

One the one hand you have Labour Leighton Andrews AM who seems to be serious about increasing and improving WM education, and on the other hand the depressing regularity that the councillors and AMs who are agains WM seem invariably to be Labour ones. What's the problem?

I was interested to see an arictle in Cambria magazine that Engels and Marx called the Bretons, Basques and other small nations 'racial trash'. Is this the root of the attitude of some on the Left towards languages like Welsh? That Welsh/Basque/Breton are, by definition conservative and reactionary languages unlike the enlightened larger languages like English, French, German, Russian, Spanish?

continuing education said...

I hope this school and education will grow there and also get great success. From these pictures it's looks nice. My best wishes for them.

Anonymous said...

Reply to Anon 21:34...

Völkerabfälle is more accurately translated as 'fragmented residual peoples'. The original Marxist concept was that in revolutionary socialism the culture of such peoples would disappear into a new culture of communism. It formed the basis of Soviet attempted suppression of the Baltic cultures. Later, the 4th international adopted this concept as a need to oppose small nations as their danger is that of pockets of reactionary thinking. It is for this reason that Trotskyites groups such as 'Miltant' opposed Welsh language and culture politically.

To quote......"The National Eisteddfod in Wales is a celebration of a dangerous and reactionary clique of the pettie bourgeois, and needs to be eliminated as part of the class struggle to establish the supremacy of the British proletariat" - British Perspectives and The National Question, 1981, by the Secretary of the Mid Glamorgan branch of the Militant Tendency, Central Committee, errr....Jeff Cuthbert.

This is not to say that all components of the 'left' share such a view. Indeed it was such a debate in Scotland which led to a schism, resulting in the abandonment of entryism in Labour and the establishment of Sheridan's, Scottish Socialist Party.

Peter Black said...

I believe that the Llanmorlais site has been sold.

Anonymous said...

"The original Marxist concept was that in revolutionary socialism the culture of such peoples would disappear into a new culture of communism."

... I think you're being too kind to a strong element of the Left. It's not just that 'the culture of such people would ...' but that it SHOULD.

There's been a definate agenda to extinguish minoritised languages and cultures in Europe.

The same attitude can also be seen within a large section of the Left towards indigenous languages and cultures in Africa too - the ANC government in SA for instance which has a very odd relationship within the different languages of the state. See articles by Prof Kwesi Kwaa Prah of of CASAS (

or Neville Alexander:

who is of the left but has tried to promote his native Afrikaans (and Xhosa) in Cape Town. He is critical of many others on the intellectual left (the ANC) for their attitudes towards the indigenous in South Africa - it resonates maybe with the linguistic history and situation here in Wales:


The French Communists have consistently opposed any concession to Breton language and culture to name one of many examples.

In the UK elements of this thinking is still deep within the psyche of the British Left. There's a history to it and an ideological belief which seems to be different and more fundamental and reactionary than the 'traditional' right wing snobbishness towards Welshness which is just prejudice but not ideological.

lionel said...

It is quite clear and has been for years that the Labour party are the worst for their attitudes towards the welsh language and Welsh medium education than any other party. Only recently, the fuss over the new school proposed for Gwersyllt. Who were most vocal in their opposition? Labour. The Treganna fiasco. Councillors from which party played the race and religion cards, even dragging the mosques into the argument?
RCT was one of the success stories of WM education until Labour took it back in the last local elections. Whose party does the Tonypandy councillor who apparently doesn't believe that WM education should exist belong to?
enough said! I could go on......

Anonymous said...

"To quote......"The National Eisteddfod in Wales is a celebration of a dangerous and reactionary clique of the pettie bourgeois, and needs to be eliminated as part of the class struggle to establish the supremacy of the British proletariat" - British Perspectives and The National Question, 1981, by the Secretary of the Mid Glamorgan branch of the Militant Tendency, Central Committee, errr....Jeff Cuthbert."

Classic. Can I have it printed on A3 and made into a poster and then a leaflet to distribute to my Caerffili friends!?


Simon Brooks said...

Could Anon 21:34 send me more details regarding the Cuthbert quote. Please send to seimonifor[at] - I'm keen to see a copy of this pamphlet in order to refer to it in academic work. One of my research interests is "racism"/"xenophobia" (call it what you wish) on the left towards ethnic/cultural/linguistic minorities - so I'd quite like to see this quote and in context.

Anonymous said...

British Labour supporters are strangely hostile to native minority languages/cultures such as Welsh but glorify cities with large black, gay, muslim or even catholic minorities. They're largely self-hating middle-class Englishmen obsessed with exotic poverty porn and embarrassed by traditional culture.

Anonymous said...

So, when Cythbert was against WM education in Caerffili, there's form and ideology to this. It isn't just an issue of the machanics of a new school but hostility to the language.

I'd say the same is true with Bryant and the Welsh language and the comments following the Simon Glyn Affair. There's an ideological hostility to the Welsh language which is seen as both backward, conservative and reactionary. As opposed to English which is forward-looking, modern, metropolitan. Same as Engels and Marx's views. Nothing has changed much in 160 years.

lionel said...

interesting isn't it that 3 out of the 4 schools discussed here were opened in Conservative led Authorities. The Tories have always had a far better record than Labour when it comes to the language. If I were Plaid in Caerphilly though, I'd be getting a real move on, before they lose overall control next year as is likely. There are still gaps in provision within the county. Bedwas/Machen as well as Risca (which was mentioned in a previous blog)and Blackwood, to name a few. We all know what will happen if Labour win control.

Bonheddwr said...

Labour has certainly been the most hostile party towards the Welsh language, and most vociferous in their opposition to WM schools.

The really sad thing is that Labour rule (to a degree) a large number of our councils. Imagine how different things would be if we had more councils led by Plaid! This can change next may of course, but I suspect that Labour will gain more councils unfortunately! :-(

Another example of the British lefts opposition to the Welsh language is available here - - on Amnesty internationals website of all places. Written by Cathy Owens, Programme-Director Amnesty International Wales and former SPAD to Rhodri Morgan when he was First Minister.

Anonymous said...

Provision for entry-level in Vale of Glamorgan is already insufficient for 2012 in the Barry area, despite the new primary Gwynfor/Nant Talwg opening in September 2011. Read more here:

MH said...

Thanks for that, Penarth a'r Byd. Without my email alert I wouldn't have noticed your comment, and I'm not sure whether anyone else will still be reading after all this time.

Do you have any thoughts on a permanent location? One idea that I've heard floated is for Dinas Powys Infants and Murch Junior to consolidate on the Murch site, leaving the Dinas Powys Infants building free to become a new Welsh-medium primary.

At this rate of growth, there will also be a shortage at secondary level in not so many years. One idea would be to consolidate St Cyres on the Upper School site, allowing the Lower School site to be developed into another WM secondary. What do you think?

PenarthArByd said...

I don't really know that much about the Barry area as I'm more focused on Penarth. But with the interest in Welsh medium education in the Vale I agree with your thought that the next question to be asking is: how long will it be until the Vale needs its second WM comprehensive?
Clearly the best location for this school will be in the Penarth/Dinas Powys area, thereby taking the catchment from Penarth, Dinas Powys, Sully and Llandough. And I would agree that St. Cyres is the obvious location for a second WM secondary and carries the clear advantage of being close to Ysgol Pen-y-Garth.
One potential spanner in the works: my understanding is that numbers in EM education in Penarth are holding relatively firm - I don't know whether that just means more children are being born/arriving or whether EM education rolls will start to fall in the next four years or so. But if EM numbers continue to hold firm there could be some resistance to consolidating St Cyres.
One additional question - how would I get my blog to be listed on the right hand side of your blog-list?!

Anonymous said...

Found this blog by accident...noted the comment above about Cathy Owens. Whilst I can't comment on what she has allegedly said (as the article doesn't appear to be on Amnesty's site any longer) I would be surprised if Cathy was anti Welsh language as she is a fluent welsh language speaker.

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