Ysgol Gymraeg y Cwm

Those who read this blog regularly will already know about Swansea's decision to open a new Welsh-medium primary school in Bon-y-maen in the east of the city in the buildings which were used by Cwm Primary before it was closed in 2010. But today Swansea has announced what the school will be called and who the new head teacher will be.


     New head teacher to take the helm at Welsh-medium school

I'd like to add my congratulations to Rhian on her appointment as head teacher of the new Ysgol Gymraeg y Cwm, and wish her and the new school all the best for the future. If anyone can't quite read the banner in the photograph, it says that it's still not too late to get your child into the school this September. Just ring 01792 636537.


Swansea Council will want to make a lot of the fact that there are now eleven WM primary schools in the city, and that the overall number of WM primary places has risen by 735 since 2004, as it says here. But that is not a particularly large increase (in terms of intake, it is just over a hundred) and some of this increase is just a paperwork exercise. Three of Swansea's existing WM primaries—Gellionen, Pontybrenin and Tirdeunaw—had already increased the intake of these schools over the previous five years to the point where they were more than 25% over their official capacity, and therefore had to apply for permission to continue to take in more children, even though they were not physically increasing the space available for them. Details are in this Consultation Paper, and the decision was approved (although the increase was slightly reduced, Swansea seem to have simply ignored it) here.

So even with this new school, Swansea's other WM schools are bursting at the seams, and they appear to have no firm proposals for increasing capacity by opening another WM school elsewhere. There has been talk about building a new WM primary at Morriston and it is obvious that more provision will be needed there because Tan-y-lan, which was opened in September last year, is being forced to take in far more children than will be sustainable in the long term. As I noted here, in its first year it will take in 35 children, but only has room for 113 in total [see footnote].


It goes without saying that money is in short supply, and we need to recognize that Swansea has other schools which are in desperate need of repair or replacement. So even though I would love to see a brand new building to house a new WM school in Morriston, it would be some rabbit to pull out of the hat.

Swansea need a plan B, and I'd like to remind them of a solution that I put forward at the same time as I proposed turning Cwm Primary into a new Welsh-medium school.

     A proposal for two new Welsh-medium schools in Swansea

Cwm Primary was one of three schools that Swansea closed in July 2010 because of large numbers of surplus places in their English-medium provision, the other two being Llanmorlais on the Gower and Arfryn in Pen-lan. RhAG in particular tried hard to get Swansea to open a new WM school at Llanmorlais, but their efforts fell on deaf ears and the building has now been sold anyway. But I have always thought that Arfryn was a more viable proposition, and the building still lies empty and in relatively good condition.



Although opening a new Welsh-medium school in the Arfryn building doesn't provide a direct solution to the problem of demand in Morriston, it does offer an indirect solution which is almost as good. As we can see from the map below (click the map to enlarge it) Tirdeunaw is drawing pupils from Morriston to the north-east as well from the areas to south; so if a new WM school is established at the Arfryn building, it will ease the demand on Tirdeunaw from the south to enable it to provide more places for children from Morriston, something that Tan-y-lan cannot do on a sustainable basis because it is so small. It also helps fill the all-too-obvious gaping hole where there is no WM provision at all.


So having got half of what I proposed before, it would be very satisfying to get the other half too. A new WM primary at Arfryn can be implemented quickly and at minimal cost. There is no reason why it can't be up and running by September 2013.

Footnote added 14:45, 21 April 2012

Looking at the Schools Census Data, Tan-y-lan has 15 children in Year 2, 13 in Year 1 and had 10 in the Reception Year in January (there will probably have been a further intake after Easter). It is unusual for a school to start with a triple intake, normally the first intake is just for Reception and Year 1.

This means that Tan-y-lan does have an intake that is sustainable in the long term. Sorry for the misinformation.

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Jac o' the North, said...

I appreciate there are limitations on space - and Swansea's a funny shape - but what's the situation further along the Bay, down towards West Cross, Mumbles, Langland, etc?

MH said...

There are three WM primaries that are just off the map to the west and south, Jac: Llwynderw in West Cross, Pontybrenin in Gorseinon and Bryniago in Pontarddulais.

I also have a note about Tregwyr Junior. The infant and junior schools were amalgamated a year or two back. They are on separate sites, and I half remember thinking that the idea was to eventually bring them together at the infants site. This would leave the old Tregwyr Junior site as a potential new WM school for north Gower, but access for buses isn't good.

Anonymous said...

the town center looks a bit bereft of WM provision, is there nothing at all in that area. I imagine parents living there are driving their kids all over the place!

MH said...

Quite right, Anon. The only way to get a WM education if you live in the centre is to travel. In this document in 2009 Heini Gruffudd of RhAG identified these areas of the city where expansion of WM was most needed:

• Morriston (the top priority)
• St Thomas/Bonymaen
• Cwmbwrla/Landore
• Townhill/Mayals
• Killay/Dunvant

Tan-y-lan has partly eased the pressure in Morriston, and now Ysgol y Cwm will ease the problem in Bon-y-maen.

A school at Arfryn would indirectly ease pressure in Morriston and also help provide provision for Cwmbwrla and Landore.

And after that, new schools are most badly needed in Townhill/Mayals and Killay/Dunvant.

Anonymous said...

so there are probably kids in meithrin who can't get a close WM school and the authority are most likely separating families across the city. Just like here in Torfaen. Who would put a 4 year old in a taxi to travel to the next town, because the local WM is overflowing?

Anonymous said...

Is their a need for a third Welsh medium high school in swansea before long as they have done in Cardiff due to growing demand?

Jac o' the North, said...

MH, don't think I'm being picky, you do a great job on WM education, but . . . you've lumped together Townhill / Mayals. The former being a rather 'colourful' council estate and the latter perhaps the most upmarket neighbourhood in the city. Did you mean Townhill / Mayhill?

MH said...

There certainly is going to be a need for a third WM secondary in Swansea, but Neath Port Talbot are planing to create a new WM secondary in the south of the county, and it might well be possible for that to be shared with Swansea. That would be a good transitional solution because it would lessen the negative impact on Ystalyfera.

MH said...

I was just quoting the RhAG document, Jac. But I've just looked at the map and can see that Mayals is next to West Cross.

I had thought it was just an alternative spelling for Mayhill ... but what can a Turk be expected to know about Swansea?

Anonymous said...

How many new Welsh High schools are being formed in the next few years now?


where do you get all this knowledge of schools from?

MH said...

As Jac has just shown, my knowledge does have quite a few holes, Anon 20:27. If anyone else spots any mistakes, please let me know and I'll fix them.

There are already two WM primaries in Monmouthshire: Ysgol y Ffin in Caldicot (only last week I was told that the town council there was controlled by Plaid) and Ysgol y Fenni in Abergavenny. I would have thought that a WM primary in the town of Monmouth would be a logical next step.

The big thing that is missing is another WM Secondary in Gwent. At present there is only one secondary, Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw near Pontypool, taking children from the counties of Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Newport and Monmouthshire. A new secondary is badly needed, either in Newport or maybe between Newport and Cwmbran.

Anonymous said...

I heard two rumours on that one. The amalgamation of Fairwater and Llantarnam High schools freeing a building up. This would be daft with gwynllyw only up the road. The other being Newport planning a Secondary school in a few years. Either way, something needs to happen. When Leighton hopefully kicks backsides in Blaenau Gwent (Tredegar) and in mid-Monmouthshire, plus further growth in Torfaen. Preferably up towards Trevethin itself. It is barmy that kids from Trevethin and Penygarn have a secondary school on their doorsteps (many living next door) that they cannot access unless they go out of the area for WM primary education first!

Lyndon said...

Llantarnam wouldn't be a bad location for a new school, it's just on the northern outskirts of Newport and the road links are pretty good.

However, I suspect that Newport Council would prefer to open their own school rather than continue handing over money to Torfaen.

Ambiorix said...

Is there any plans for a WM further education college?

Ambiorix said...

Cont from my previous psot: I meant to ask anywhere in Wales?

MH said...

You've hit the nail on the head, Lyndon. Llantarnam is in a very good position geographically, but it is a scandal that Newport don't have their own WM secondary and really should be providing one themselves.

I have to say I was a little surprised that the four authorities made substantial capital contributions to enlarging Gwynllyw (though in the main they were replacing temporary accommodation with long-overdue permanent buildings) instead of keeping it at about the same size and developing a second school somewhere else, but there should be no reason why they can't come to a similar sort of sharing arrangement again. Some sharing will be inevitable, for any new WM secondary at Newport would almost certainly serve the intake from Ysgol y Ffin in south Monmouthshire.

Another solution would be for Newport to buy the freehold or get a long lease on Llantarnam if they really did want to pay for a new school all by themselves. But Newport have their own redundant building in Hartridge High now that the new Llanwern High has been completed, and might prefer to redevelop that site instead.

MH said...

The plan for higher education is the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, Ambiorix, which is a "virtual college" in the sense that it does not have one specific location but funds WM courses in existing HE establishments across Wales.

It seems that the plan for further education is similar, in that rather than developing one college, funds will be distributed to existing FE establishments via something called the Bilingual Champions Scheme to encourage them to develop their own WM courses. An announcement of £750,000 was made only a few weeks ago, here, and a similar amount was distributed last year.

I don't know too much about it, so I'd value some input on whether this is working well or not, or whether it should be handled another way, from anyone who does.

Anonymous said...

I hope that WM education grows strongly in Swansea. We don't hear enough in the media about our second city. With a bit of effort it could be the urban jewel of Wales!

MH said...

I've just looked at the plans for Hartridge High/Llanwern High. The new building has been built on the old sports pitches, and the old buildings will have to be demolished to make room for the new sports pitches. No room for any other development on the site. Maybe Llantarnam isn't such a bad option.

Welsh not British said...

I used to go to Afryn in Penlan (no hyphen) and whilst it would be an ideal location for a WM school I can think of a better use for it.

The Penlan School site (now Bryn Tawe) could easily accomodate a primary school (just as Tirdeunaw is incoporated into Daniel James (formerly Mynyddbach) and Afryn would be ideally suited to be a special needs school due to it's flatness. The whole school is on one level with virtually no slope from the road to the main entrances.

MH said...

Interesting idea, Welsh not British. Thanks. These are my initial thoughts:

Yes, at present there are surplus places at Bryn Tawe. The admission number is 171 but there were only 112 applications for Year 7 in September 2011, here. But with the rate of expansion in WM primary education (the intake at Tan-y-lan and the new YG y Cwm alone) Bryn Tawe will be taking in its full 171 in only a few years.

In order for the present Bryn Tawe buildings to be suitable for both primary and secondary age children there would need to be adequate separation between them, and this would mean duplication of non-teaching spaces such as dining/assembly halls and toilets. If these were added on to the existing building they would cost money to build. If they were "carved out" of existing internal space it would reduce the overall capacity for teaching and would cost some money anyway.

And does Swansea need another special needs school?

MH said...

... and sorry about the hyphen.

Welsh not British said...

It's a massive site, when I went there in the 90s (when it was Penlan Comp) around 20-40% of the main building was used for adult courses or just empty. There are even less children there now.

It's hard to explain the scale of the building and the grounds to anyone who does not know it but having attended both there is no reason why "carving" out would be a problem.

As for the special school idea, Afryn is a bigger site than the nearby existing special school to the right of Tirdeunaw (on your map) so it might be better used as a replacement.

MH said...

Thanks, WnB. I've not been inside Bryn Tawe, but I can get an idea from the pictures. I've just done a quick number-crunch based on the Schools Census for 2011.

There are now 769 students in Bryn Tawe, including 137 in Year 7. There are currently 181 children in Year 1 of the five feeder schools for Bryn Tawe (Lon-las, Tirdeunaw, Gellionen, Felindre and Tan-y-lan). So Bryn Tawe will be over its admission number of 171 when these children transfer in 2017. Bryn Tawe is filling up fast, and if some of that space was taken for a primary it would just bring the necessity for a new WM secondary forward by a few years.

Some other statistics came out while I did it:
• 13.1% of Swansea's primary and nursery age children are in WM education
• This varies from 10.6% in Year 6 to 15.6% in the Reception Year, and is over 16% in the nursery years

So there's some positive growth of just under one percentage point a year, but room for a lot more.

But I need to add (and have) a correction to something I said before about Tan-y-lan. It has 38 statutory age children, but this number includes 15 children in Year 2. i.e. it started with a triple intake (Y2, Y1 and R). So it is in fact taking in a sustainable of number children.

I must admit that I looked at the special school at Pen y Bryn as a possible location for a larger WM primary for Morriston. But it's only 800m from Tirdeunaw, and I'm not sure that moving it would be worth the hassle and distruption.

Welsh not British said...

I must say that there were never that many pupils at the school when I was there. I think it was more around the 650 mark.

In that case hosting a primary school wouldn't be ideal so I have to agree with your idea that Afryn would make an ideal site. One thing I noticed from the picture above is that the nursery has gone (small grey square top right). How long ago it went I don't know but I remember my first day in school because I tripped over a golden retriever called Biscuit that belonged to a boy called Jason. I skinned my palms and cried like a girl. And it was in that very grey square! :)

Anyway, add one of those back into the mix in the form of a meithrin and you've got a winner. The nearest meithrins are (after looking on the site) a mile or so in either direction.

The buildings on the right hand side of the photo is the local community centre and the library. This would make a good spot for a Meithrin in a similar way to how smaller villages/communities would do it.

So no extra expense needed.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting report from British Future

Of note-
'Which, if any, of the following best describes how you see yourself?’ the answers were 21% were Welsh not British, 22% were more Welsh than British, 37% were equally British and Welsh, 9% were more British than Welsh and 6% were British not Welsh.


The National Eisteddfod stirred pride among 78% of Welsh participants while 17% were not proud at all.

78% of the Welsh asked had pride in the Welsh language while 19% had no pride in the language.

Fairly strong showing for Welshness, and good for the language considering this was a poll looking at Britishness.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to point out above that 25% of those surveyed in Wales identified themselves as English while 64% said they were Welsh; just 1% were Scottish and 9% said they belonged to none of these labels.

I dont know whether this is good or bad. More people are proud of the language and Eisteddfod than are the total number of Welsh people. However if the survey is right, only 64% of people are Welsh in Wales.

The census 2011 results are going to be interesting!!

MH said...

I've read the report, but it only gives edited highlights of the poll, Anon. So I'm waiting for the full data to appear on the YouGov site before I decide whether to say anything.

One clue, though: if 37% of people in Denmark replied to the equivalent question by saying they saw themselves as "equally Danish and Scandinavian" what would you take that to mean?

Anonymous said...

The figure of 64% identifying themselves as Welsh ties in with past surveys on this issue. However the 25% who identify as English seems very high. In the past, a large percentage of the non-Welsh identifiers (many of whom are English born) have tended to see themselves as British rather than English. Perhaps devolution has brought about subtle changes in the way people perceive themselves. On the other hand perhaps the way in which the question has been asked in this survey has influenced the outcome. To be honest, I can't make head nor tail of the figures on Welsh/British identity. If they are based on all respondents based in Wales, how is it that they suggest that 80% of people feel to some extent Welsh, when the answer to a previous question suggested that only 64% of them did so. But if the figures are based only on those who previously identified themselves as Welsh, how come 6% said they were British and not Welsh. I am sure there is a perfectly logical reason. Can't for the life of me think what it might be.

MH said...

Those questions crossed my mind too, Anon. But by looking at the raw data from YouGov, I can clarify a couple of things.

People were not given the chance to identify themselves as British in the first question. The options were only Welsh, Scottish, English and None of these. So someone in Wales who saw themselves as only British would be listed as None of these.

Only those who identified themselves as Welsh, plus those who saw themselves as None of these, were then asked the "Moreno question" on Welsh/British identity.

As I suspected, the two questions did not mention the word nationality. But I think people are all too ready to assume that saying you are Welsh or British is a statement about national identity. I'm writing a new post on that now.

It cuts both ways. I would never willing decribe my nationality as British (although there are obvious occasions when I would have no choice but to do so) but wouldn't mind being called British any more than a Dane would mind being called Scandinavian. Others might describe themselves as Welsh, but would reject any idea of that being a statement of their nationality. They'd be proud to call themselves Welsh, but would see Wales only as a region of the UK rather than as a nation.

Anonymous said...

MH - Thanks for the response to my post at 19:28. Even including the 'nones' the figures on the 'Moreno' question still don't tally fully with the Welsh/English/etc question. The non-Welsh identifiers responding to the Moreno question should be slightly higher to tie in with the 'nones' expressed in response to the Welsh/English question. But I suppose respondee confusion might account for the difference. I have commented on your interpretation of the survey results on your most recent blogpost. Afraid that I disagree with you to some extent.

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