Cardiff's re-think on WM school places

For those who might have missed it—and because the news doesn't seem to have been reported anywhere in English—I thought I'd re-post this report from Newyddion 9 yesterday evening.

     

Each local authority is required to produce a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan which, among other things, details how they intend to increase the provision of Welsh-medium education in their area. Cardiff's WESP (available here) had said that it intended to create another 47 reception places over the next three years, broken down as follows:

Ysgol Glan Ceubal ... 2 new places
Ysgol y Wern ... 15 new places
New school in Grangetown/Butetown ... 30 new places

Total ... 47 new places

But this has now been revised to:

Ysgol Glan Ceubal ... 2 new places
Ysgol y Wern ... 15 new places
New school in Grangetown/Butetown ... 60 new places
Splott/Adamsdown ... 30 new places

Total ... 107 new places

In addition to this, an extra 15 reception places would be available by refusing children who live in Rhondda Cynon Taf access to Ysgol Gwaelod y Garth ... although I think this would be a retrograde move as it is the most convenient school for Taff's Well, just across the river.

I've searched for details of the new plan, but haven't been able to find any so far. However I think it's fairly clear how the additional places would be provided.

First, it must mean that the new WM school for Grangetown/Butetown is going to be a two-form entry school from the outset. Cardiff produced a shortlist of six possible sites back in March, and I looked at each of these in some detail in this post. As I see it, the only two viable options for this new WM school are the Channel View Leisure Centre site in Grangetown (in turquoise) and the site immediately north of County Hall (in yellow).

     

Second, the most obvious way of expanding provision in Splott/Adamsdown is by increasing the size of the existing Ysgol Glan Morfa from one- to two-form entry.

Ysgol Glan Morfa shares a site with the English-medium Moorlands Primary (and Nursery) School. In the picture below Moorlands Primary is the two storey building, Moorlands Nursery is the single story building in the top left, and Glan Morfa is at the bottom.

     

On the right of the picture is a building which used to be a library but is now empty, although the grounds are used as a play area. My guess is that this would be used to provide the additional accommodation to make Glan Morfa into a two form entry school. The building is not in particularly good condition, so it might well be better to demolish it than try to refurbish it. But it was quite a handsome building in its day, and if it were up to me I'd look at a way of keeping the façade, but building something completely new behind it.

     

All in all, it is very good news indeed that Cardiff Council have re-thought their original plans, and are now aiming to provide more than double the number of new WM reception places originally proposed. These 107 new reception places will, as children move up through these schools, mean an extra capacity of 749 WM primary places. It will also make it all the more necessary for Cardiff to have a fourth WM secondary school.

The other piece of good news is that Cardiff intend to open the new Grangetown/Butetown school by 2016 rather than 2017 as previously proposed.

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15 comments:

Anonymous said...

As someone who is completely cynical of almost anything the Labour party in Wales does, what the hell is going on here? What is the real motive behind this? Was the campaign so successful that they simply had no choice, or is there something else going on?

Timeo Llafuros et dona ferentes

MH said...

It's hard to know. I'd have a better idea of the thinking behind this if I could find some sort of document, which I'd expect to be in the form of a report prepared for Cardiff's Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee. If anyone can provide a link, I'd be very grateful.

From what Michael Jones of RhAG has said (in the video and in this article which people can put through Google Translate) I would guess that RhAG have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes. But, ultimately, everything is being driven by parental demand, and no council can ignore that, irrespective of party politics.

Who knows, perhaps there is some sort of change in Labour. The new plan for Sir Gâr, in which all new schools will now be WM and every existing school will move along the continuum to do more teaching in Welsh, was agreed by a cross-party group including Labour.

Cai Larsen said...

The current leaership of Labour on Cardiff Council is more committed to the language than the previous one.

Hogyn o Rachub said...

Cai's right, and it's really as simple as that, the new leadership is considerbly more committed to the Welsh language than the previous one.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic news, and all credit to the new labour leadership. What percentage will this take Cardiff to at age 7, as per the WG's WM education strategy?

Rebecca Williams said...

Has anyone seen a copy of the updated Welsh in Education Strategic Plan for Sir Gaerfyrddin (i.e. the one following the working party report mentioned by MH above - not the one originally consulted upon)? I understand it has now been submitted to Welsh Government, but I've been unable to find a copy in the public domain.

Anonymous said...

Da iawn Phil Bale

Anonymous said...

The answer to the question about cynicism of Labour is posted above and is related to the two different factions inside Labour on Cardiff council. The ward councillors for Grangetown are/were aligned with the Goodway camp, and there are genuine local concerns about the sites needed (there is also strong local demand). It's not as simple as hostility/ignorance to Welsh, it's also about local populism. The new faction running the council does not have the ward councillors in Grangetown so finds it easier to make a positive decision. It isn't wrong to make a statement congratulating the current leadership but it has to be understood that the Labour party elsewhere in south Wales (especially valleys) is much worse than Cardiff.

MH said...

I'm content to accept the answer that there are internal factions in Labour in Cardiff and, if that's true, I'm just glad that an obviously sensible decision has been reached. As I said, there doesn't seem to be any other way of providing the Splott/Adamsdown places other than by expanding Glan Morfa ... so I'll take that as a given, and just hope they get the money to pay for it sorted. If necessary, some additional space can be by means of temporary accommodation, so Glan Morfa shouldn't need to turn away any pupils for September 2014. Something like ten were turned away last September.

As for Grangetown/Butetown, it seems likely that the Channel View site is favourite (and it's the one I'd prefer) but if the potential problems of the current EM nursery and leisure centre aren't sorted, there could yet be a local backlash, and councillors might well bend to that. But things will have to be sorted soon if a new building is going to be completed by September 2016. The construction period will be the best part of two years. At present, Cardiff have only been promised 50% of the money to build a one form entry WM school by the WG, so there's a question mark over where the rest will come from, plus any money that might be required to move the EM nursery and leisure facilities.

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To 00:37. It's perhaps worth noting that these figure relate to capacity rather than the actual numbers of WM pupils, so we're not comparing apples with apples. However, from the figures in the draft WESP (p12) I linked to in the main post, the January 2013 figure for Year 2 WM in Cardiff was 588 out of 3,888 = 15.1%. The projected figure for January 2017 (i.e. the 2016 intake) was 704 out of 4,373 = 16.1%. If the extra 60 places are filled by an extra 60 pupils, the new figure would therefore be 764 out of 4,373 = 17.5%.

The latest annual report on the WMES is on this page. The 2013 national figure for Year 2 is 7,468 out of 33,398 = 22.4%. The target for 2015 is 25%, but this figure won't be met.

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I haven't seen the final version either, Rebecca. I guess the obvious things to do are to write to either the council or the Welsh government to ask for a copy. You might also try RhAG.

Anonymous said...

Just looking at the 2014 A Level results I have to wonder where the future Welsh teachers are going to come from. This year 280 pupils took A level Welsh first language. The high point seems to be 2005 when 402 took A level Welsh L1.

2005 was the high point for all Welsh A levels (L1 and L2) at 964 and this year the total is 692 with 412 taking Welsh L2.

I don't know the total pupil numbers in each year though.

MH said...

As always, you need to provide links to any figures, 17:23.

Anonymous said...

http://www.wjec.co.uk/students/results-and-research/results-statistics.html

You can compare the uptake of GCE A Level with the number taking GCSE L1 two years earlier. A steady fall from 7.5% in 2007 to 5% in 2014.

On the plus side, next year looks like being higher at 340+ taking Welsh L1 A level.

Anonymous said...

"The answer to the question about cynicism of Labour is posted above and is related to the two different factions inside Labour on Cardiff council."

The trouble is, is that this goes to show that despite National WM ed Stratergy, WESP now being statutory etc. The future of WM Ed is stll at the mercy of internal party interests and infighting. I can well believe that it is even worse in the valleys where the tribal culture of the Labour party is alive and well.

DaiTwp

Anonymous said...

That's not necessarily true DaiTwp. At least statutory WESPs have allowed WG to refuse plans from local authorities in this area. In this case, WG being unhappy with the Cardiff plan allowed a window of opportunity for review and increased pressure on the authority. Fortunately for us, as others have noted, this window of opportunity coincided with the new faction taking over. I wonder to what extent the new faction and characters like Phil Bale represent a slow shift in Labour towards 'Welsh' Labour values as opposed to the more unionist roots of Goodway and the old guard.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about a slow shift but if you know about Cardiff politics you can join up the dots. Mr Bale was support staff for Julie Morgan. Her and Rhodri have had an ongoing rivalry with Goodway. Rhodri and Julie associated themselves with "Welsh" Labour values and devolution, Goodway with New Labour values and skepticism about the national project generally (also as a big city mayor he didn't like the idea of a devolved Wales at all). Goodway even expressed reluctance about voting Yes in the 2011 referendum although i'd need to find the link.

By keeping his head down Bale is actually doing a better job than Goodway. Where I think he will fall down is in being unable to manage the cuts, and Labour making more cuts once Ed Miliband is PM.

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