A new WM school in Grangetown/Butetown

Last week, Cardiff Council announced that they had reconsidered their previous decision to back track on their commitment to build a new one form entry Welsh-medium school in Grangetown – something which had already been approved by the Welsh Government and for which a share of funding had been arranged under the 21st Century Schools programme. Instead, they now intend to provide an additional 60 entry places for both Welsh- and English-medium education in the Grangetown/Butetown area, and have produced a shortlist of six sites that they consider suitable for development, as reported here.

This in itself is a major victory for both the parents who have been campaigning for it and for Neil McEvoy, who was able to use his position to "call in" the original decision.

The new proposals are set out in detail in this document, which is being considered by the Children & Young People Scrutiny Committee tonight. In this post I'd like to look at the shortlisted options.

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The map below shows the six sites. Two are in Grangetown: Ninian Park Primary in green and Ferry Road (behind Channel View Leisure Centre) in turquoise. Four are in Butetown: Mount Stuart Primary in lavender, St Mary the Virgin CiW Primary in blue, St Cuthbert's RC Primary in orange and unused land just north of County Hall in yellow.

     

If the Ninian Park Primary site were to be developed, it would be as a permanent extension to replace the existing temporary accommodation, probably in the area marked on the picture below, which will involve taking a small piece of land from Sevenoaks Park. It could therefore only provide English-medium places. It is a two form entry school at present, and the extension would make it a three form entry school.

     

My guess is that the Ferry Road site would be the area shown in turquoise below. It is a relatively small site, but it might well be enlarged by relocating some of the car parking at Channel View Leisure Centre and/or by taking a small piece of the Marl in the same way developing Ninian Park would take a small part of Sevenoaks Park. I do not know the exact site boundaries Cardiff have in mind, but it is worth noting that they believe the site is large enough and suitable for a two form entry school in their report, with the play/sports facilities on the Marl being used by the school.

Personally, I would have no objection to this site being developed as a one form entry WM school, especially as the site is relatively small, but Cardiff have a preference for larger rather than smaller schools.

     

Therefore if there is to be a Welsh-medium School in Grangetown, this is the only one of the identified sites that could accommodate it. The only alternative to a WM school on this site would be one in Butetown.

It is perhaps worth noting that in this post, Labour Councillor Ashley Govier is quoted as saying that the plan is to create "a fully integrated site of play, leisure and school", which might be taken to include the Grangetown Play Centre to the right of it in the image. He might well have inside information not available to the rest of us, but I do not see any reason why the playgroup should not stay exactly where it is, and the new school be built to the left of it.

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There are four identified sites in Butetown. Three of them involve building on the playing fields of existing schools, and one is a currently unused brownfield site.

Mount Stuart Primary is shown below. I would guess the most promising part of the site to develop is marked in lavender. The idea is to extend the existing school, making it a three form entry English-medium school. There is also the potential to enlarge the site onto the green public space to the west and the south of the site to compensate for this.

     

Cardiff have identified the need for an additional 60 English-medium entry places in Grangetown/Butetown, and I think the best way of achieving this would be to provide 30 of them at Ninian Park Primary and 30 of them at Mount Stuart Primary. However I might also say that although I think the figures for the overall numbers of additional children are probably right, I think that Cardiff are underestimating the numbers for WM schools and over-estimating the number for EM schools. They are working on an annual 4% "uplift".

St Mary the Virgin CiW school is shown below, and Cardiff have identified their playing field (marked in blue) as a site for development. I just can't see this working. Losing the playing field will affect the existing school very severely. For me, it's a non-starter. However I would not rule out creating some additional places at this school if there was a specific demand for more Church in Wales faith school provision. It might well be possible to build a small block of two or three classrooms immediately adjacent to the school without needing to build on the playing field.

     

The picture below shows two sites. The site shown in orange takes up part of the playing field of St Cuthbert's RC Primary and some adjacent land. I think it is possible to build a new wing to this school to increase it from a one form entry to a two form entry school, but I would again question whether there is specific demand for this many more Catholic faith school places, particularly as it would mean that the vital piece of maintained green space at Letton Road will be lost to the community. Providing just one or two additional classrooms could probably be done without having to take this public space.

     

In contrast, the site shown in yellow to the north of County Hall seems a much better proposition, and is so close both the St Cuthbert and St Mary's sites as to make no real difference in terms of travelling times. So why take much-valued playing space away from either of those two schools? To me, this seems an ideal site to develop as a two form entry school.

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So it is now a question of choosing which of these options are best. So far as Welsh-medium education is concerned, there are only two practical possibilities from the six sites that Cardiff has shortlisted: either a new school at Ferry Road (turquoise) or a new school at County Hall (yellow). In my opinion, it would be better to develop the Ferry Road site, because Grangetown is more densely populated and has the greatest immediate demand for WM places.

For children in Grangetown to have to travel east to the County Hall site would be almost as inconvenient as for them to have to travel west to Pwll Coch. Schools in urban areas should be within easy walking distance. There are already four EM schools in Grangetown (Grangetown Primary, Ninian Park Primary, St Patrick's RC Primary and St Paul's CiW Primary) so it is only fair that there should now be an equally accessible Welsh-medium school in Grangetown as well.

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38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Neil Mcevoy has to be the most effective Plaid Cymru councillor, he is immense, We dont ned any other Plaid councillors on the council, do we?

Anonymous said...

one thing you have forgotten, in the document the council proposed two schools, a two FE Welsh medium and 2FE English Medium

MH said...

I think Cardiff could do with a good few more councillors like Neil, 13:25.

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No, 13:28. If you read the document and what I wrote you'll see that Cardiff are looking to provide 60 more WM and 60 more EM entry places.

In the case of the EM places, this doesn't have to take the form of a new 2FE EM school. The places could equally well, if not better, be provided by extending the existing EM schools. My suggestion was that they provide 30 of these at Ninian Park and 30 of them at Mt Stuart.

Anonymous said...

what about a 4th Welsh secondary school is that in the offing as well? what a statement that would be 4 WM secondary schools in Cardiff? Are we far off that or not?

MH said...

Cardiff's third WM secondary, Bro Edern, was set up two years ago and moved to its new permanent home only last September, 14:14. But there will certainly need to be another WM secondary in Cardiff within the next four or five years, simply in order to cope with the transfer from the WM primaries that have been opened or expanded over the last few years. Cardiff should be planning for this now.

The really pressing need at the moment is for Newport to get its first WM secondary.

Anonymous said...

It's not clear from your chosen option where the 2nd stream for WM education would be? You only outline a new 1 form entry school on Ferry Rd.

MH said...

Sorry if it wasn't clear, 08:24. Cardiff Council are saying that they believe the Ferry Road site is suitable for a new two form entry school.

Without seeing any plans (and no plans have yet been published) I don't know how that would work without taking up some of the Marl, and that's why I noted Councillor Govier's comments about it being an integrated play, leisure and school site.

The idea of it being a one form entry WM school comes from the previously approved 21st Century Schools package, where the Welsh Government approved a one form entry WM school in Grangetown, subject only to finding a suitable site for it.

So in terms of identifying the site, this has now clearly been done. And, as I see it, there should now be no impediment whatsoever to building a new WM school in Grangetown on the Ferry Road site.

The only question is how big it should be. Should it be one form entry, because that's what's been approved and what funding has been earmarked for? Or should it be bigger than previously envisaged? Obviously, I'm not going to object to it being bigger, and I'm sure a 2FE school will fill up quickly.

However, to complicate matters, Ymgyrch TAG are saying that Cardiff have committed themselves to building two WM schools in the Grangetown/Butetown area, for example in this report:

"Mae TAG yn rhoi pwysau ar Gyngor Caerdydd i gadw at eu gair i agor dwy ysgol Gymraeg newydd yn y dyfodol agos."

"TAG are putting pressure on Cardiff Council to stick to their word and open two new Welsh-medium schools in the near future."


I don't know where this promise has come from (if anyone does, please let me know). But if there are to be two WM schools in the area, then the only way it can be done is for one to be in Ferry Road in Grangetown, and for the other to be on the land next to County Hall in Butetown. The other four sites Cardiff have identified are all part of existing English-medium schools, and therefore are not really suitable for a new WM school.

For me, the ideal solution would be to build a 1FE WM school at Ferry Road and a 1FE WM school next to County Hall ... but design them both in such a way that they could be extended to become 2FE schools in future.

Anonymous said...

Let's do everything not to talk about Plaid Cymru ............ we don't want to fall out again, now do we.

MH said...

I haven't "fallen out" with Plaid Cymru, 12:17. I've supported our policies and what we stand for against those in positions of power in the party who have tried to mislead others about what they are.

In so far as Plaid Cymru's part in this matter is concerned, I've nothing but praise for Neil McEvoy. If it wasn't for his work, Labour's proposal to build a 1FE English-medium school in Grangetown instead of the 1FE Welsh-medium school that had previously been approved would not have been called in, and we wouldn't now have this radical U-turn from them. But the job isn't over yet. The work now is to convert this into a set of firm proposals for WM education in Grangetown and Butetown.

Anonymous said...

Imagine what we could achieve if SO MUCH time didn't have to be allocated by such intelligent individuals as those running this campaign to fighting for basic rights, and against Labour racism.

And yes, Neil McEvoy is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

neil M should be parachuted into a South Wales Central seat, way more effective than chris franks and ms wood or wooden as we now call her, here in deepest gwynedd.

Imagine Neil M as deputy and Adam Price as leader, dream team, and Ms Wood can be in the cabinet

Anonymous said...

Nobody in Plaid can be parachuted into anything . Also slagging of Leanne anonymously is boring. Trying to anonymously suggest and Neil are against each other.

Anonymous said...

Neil McEvoy is extremely effective and has been in power. Not convinced he would be as effective in the Assembly.

Anonymous said...

Whats the point of Welsh-medium schools in Cardiff when there isn't one school in the southern half of Wales with a majority of native Welsh speakers? Check ESTYN

Ymgyrch TAG said...

Ymgyrch TAG have never asked for 2 schools but we have long been in agreement with the council that a 2FE WM school is needed to satisfy current and future demand for the area. I will contact golwg360 to clarify why they have published that.
Jo Beavan Matcher Co-chair, Ymgyrch TAG

Anonymous said...

What's the point of Cardiff schools teaching science if only a tiny minority of parents of the pupils are scientists?

Anonymous said...

What's the point of England? Wales needs more welsh schools to ensure the survival of its people, its culture, its heritage, its mothers and fathers, from the tyranny of westminster

Anonymous said...

08:40, Without England we wouldn't have any money. So our people would die. As would our languages and cultures.

Emyr Gruffydd said...

I can't tell you off the top of my head how many there are (and neither have I got the time or the energy to go trawling through reports), but the school where my niece goes, Ysgol Gymraeg Llandysul, is 54% native Welsh speaking.

MH said...

Thanks for clarifying that, Jo. It did seem a little odd, but I suppose it would all depend on how "near" the near future is. What might not be required now will probably be required in, say, five or ten years' time.

It seems clear to me that the only two sites that are suitable for WM education out of the six on the shortlist are Ferry Road and County Hall. May I ask if Ymgyrch TAG has any strong preferences one way of the other? Or do you perhaps think that another site that wasn't shortlisted might have been better?

Anonymous said...

MH where would you site a 4th welsh language high school, and why arent councils like pembrokeshire making a 2nd WL secondary school?

Anonymous said...

"Parents have the option of sending their children to a designated Welsh-medium secondary school, Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi in Llandysul, Ceredigion. Twelve per cent of pupils speak Welsh at home."
From Estyn, referring to the much larger school in NCE

MH said...

It's hard to know where the fourth WM secondary in Cardiff should be, 18:52. A lot depends on whether there are funds to build a brand new one, or whether converting an existing EM secondary is the only option.

One thought that has crossed my mind is that it will not be long before the Vale of Glamorgan requires a second WM secondary. So perhaps a new school—at least to begin with—could serve both south/west Cardiff and the Penarth/Dinas Powys area of the Vale.

As for Pembrokeshire, a new WM secondary is needed and the obvious place for it is Haverfordwest. At present, that small town has two EM secondaries: Tasker Milward and Thomas Picton. To me, it is a no-brainer that EM secondary education should be consolidated on one site, and the other should become a WM secondary.

Anonymous said...

Anon 20.43 is clearly mistaken. A quick look through Estyn's most recent inspection reports reveals several secondary schools in the southern half of Wales where the majority of children are drawn from Welsh speaking homes.Why do people feel the need to make up 'facts' which are so easy to disprove? In this case, by referring to Estyn, they have even provided the means of disproving their assertion. Is it me, or is such behaviour totally barking?

Anonymous said...

"A quick look through Estyn's most recent inspection reports reveals several secondary schools in the southern half of Wales where the majority of children are drawn from Welsh speaking homes." Tragically, this is not true. Except for designated Welsh Medium Schools both primary and secondary there are less than five.

Anonymous said...

Fewer not less, sorry!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 14:20 - In my post at 21:52, I wrote that there are several secondary schools in the southern half of Wales which have a majority of their children drawn from Welsh speaking homes. Which part of that, tragically or otherwise, do you not think is true?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how the point about children not being from Welsh-speaking families disproves the need for WM education anywhere. Seems like an argument to cut off your nose to spite their face.

Anonymous said...

Name them. Two or three does not constitute several

Anonymous said...

There are possibly two secondary schools in the southern half of the country with a majority of native Welsh speakers; Maes yr Yrfa (61%) and the designated WM in Llandysul (81%). Both are designated WM schools and their EM counterparts are overwhelming English speaking. It is pretty bleak as regards primary schools with less than 5 in all of the south with a majority. The north is rather better, with centres such as Caernarfon, Nantlle, Llangenfi, Llanrug, Pwllheli, Bala, Ffestiniog and Bottwnog with clear majorities, but even here, the percentage is collapsing in the primaries to to the mewnlifiad.

William Dolben said...

I wish people wouldn't hide behind Anonymous. If you're writing from the Crimea it might be reasonable...
In any case 61% of children at Maes yr Yrfa came homes where Welsh was the MAIN language in 2010. That doesn't mean that no Welsh was spoken in the other 39%, rather that English was dominant. Here are some other figures for S. Wales for MAIN home language or Welsh at home

Crymych 2008 35%
Tregaron 2013 55%
Aberteifi 2008 21%
Llanbedr PS 2006 <50% ("just under 50%")
D. Teifi 2013 81% (83% in 2007)
Aberaeron 2011 17%
Penweddig 2011 73% (<50% in 2005!)
Penglais 2008 <10% (although 400 (29%) study Welsh as first language!
D. Aman 2012 41%
Emlyn 2012 12% (31% fluent) up from 12% first language /equivalent in 2006

overall, not that bad in spite of the mewnlifiad

Anonymous said...

Aberaeron is over 30%, I believe.
Robert Tyler

william dolben said...

Robert
I stand corrected. 17% was the figure for Aberaeron juniors (sad..). the secondary school was 30% Welsh at home in 2010 as you say
sorry

Anonymous said...

Anon 20:24 - the definition of 'several' is 'more than two but not many'. Therefore three is most definitely several! As others have already pointed out, secondary schools with more than 50% of their pupils drawn from Welsh speaking homes include Maes yr Yrfa, Dyffryn Teifi and Tregaron. I think you can also effectively add Bro Myrddin to that list for reasons that will become apparent if you read the inspection report.

Anonymous said...

Bro Myrddin is 47% and is the only designated WM in the town. If three equals several, I'm a chocolate watch.
Also Maes Yr Yrfa and Dyff Teif are designated WM with the EM counterparts being overwhelmingly English.

Anonymous said...

Anon 22:43. There is no debate about the meaning of several. Buy a dictionary (or look at those available free on-line).

Anonymous said...

The only non-designated WM school in the southern half of Wales with a WS maj is Tregaron (just). Tregaron has also been well under in previous Estyn reports. Maes yr Yrfa and its EM counterpart are due to merge shorlt leaving the WS native speakers in a clear minority.
The same applies to primary schools with less than 5 WS first lang maj.

MH said...

For any who are keeping tracks on what's happening, Cardiff have just published a Consultation document, which is on ths page.

In fact, the document and maps seem to be remarkably similar to what I wrote ... but that's a good thing.

On reading through it, it is a little bit of a surprise to see that Cardiff are holding open the possibility of any of these six sites being used as a Welsh-medium school, including the ones which currently house English-medium schools. That would, of course, mean closing down the EM school concerned.

Although I welcome this extra flexibility, it does sound like a recipe for potential conflict. And I think it would be better to avoid that sort of conflict if possible.

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