This week marks the start of a new school year, and that means it's time to celebrate the opening of some new Welsh-medium schools, or some existing schools which have transferred to larger buildings. Here are two of them. There are more to follow.
Ysgol Bro Alun, Gwersyllt, Wrecsam
Ysgol Bro Alun is a brand new primary school to just to the north west of Wrecsam. This is from the local newspaper:
Overcrowding to end as new school in Gwersyllt opens doors
A new £5.9 m Welsh medium school in Gwersyllt will open its doors today. The community primary school for 3 to 11-year-olds is located on Delamere Avenue and will be known as Ysgol Bro Alun after its naming in February. Building work on the new school by contractors Harry Fairclough began in July 2012 and today it opens its doors to its first influx of pupils.
Long-time campaigner for the new Welsh school, Gwersyllt councillor Arfon Jones said: “We’re very pleased that at last the school is opening. It has been a four-year battle but we have prevailed. There has been very high demand in Gwersyllt and Llay for Welsh education and we welcome it opening. Ysgol Bro Alun will reduce the overcrowding in Plas Coch.”
The new school will share a headteacher and governing body with Ysgol Plas Coch, seeing Osian Jones take the helm. Mr Jones said: “It’s very exciting. There’s been a lot of hard work over the last few months and myself and staff have been in almost every day of the summer making sure everything is in place. The parents have been here for an open day and are very impressed. The facilities are second to none.”
To begin with 56 children have been enrolled in the nursery and reception classes. It’s expected the school will then grow year-on-year and other classes will be utilized.
... Each classroom of the school has direct access to external covered play and learning areas, which means pupils can go out come rain or shine. The school also has sustainable green features including a bio-mass central heating boiler, solar panels, high levels of insulation and triple glazing.
Apart from the small thumbnail in the article, I don't yet have any pictures of the completed building. But these are the architect's drawings of what it should look like:
But did it get built as planned? Pretty much. The building contractors, Harry Fairclough, have been documenting the progress of the building works in this blog, and these pictures show it in a not quite finished state.
Hopefully, most of the mess will now have been cleared ... but the children will be quite capable of making enough mess of their own.
Ysgol Bro Teyrnon, Newport
Ysgol Bro Teyrnon is Newport's third Welsh-medium primary after Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd and Ysgol Ifor Hael. It opened in September 2011, but in a temporary location at Maindee Primary school in central Newport, just behind Rodney Parade rugby ground.
The good news is that it is now moving to a new permanent location in the building that used to house Brynglas Primary School, which was closed this summer because of very low pupil numbers. These are some pictures of it.
The new home is very welcome, and it's in a pleasant enough part of Newport ... however it's probably in the wrong part. It is to the north of the city, not far from Ysgol Ifor Hael in Bettws. The real need is for a new WM school to serve the centre and western half of Newport, where there is currently no Welsh-medium provision at all.
To illustrate why location is important, the intake for Bro Teyrnon when it was located in the at Maindee Primary in central Newport was drawn mainly from south west and central Newport (see here), and the intake was full, with 27 new pupils last year. But this year there have only been 14 admissions, indicating that a number of those in south west and central Newport are not prepared to travel the extra distance.
Newport therefore has two pressing problems: the first is to establish a new Welsh-medium primary school to serve the south west of the city; but the second is to establish a Welsh-medium secondary school. At present the only WM secondary school for the whole of Gwent (Newport, Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen) is Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool. This has been expanded, but will soon be inadequate to meet the growing numbers in the primary schools that feed it. There is now an urgent need for a new WM secondary school to serve Newport and south Monmouthshire.