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Proposals for Welsh foundation learning at five Ceredigion schools backed

PROPOSALS to amend the language medium to Welsh for foundation learning at five Ceredigion schools have been backed by senior councillors despite some describing at as “polically motivated” and a “fait accompli”.

Members of Ceredigion County council’s Cabinet, at their June 3 meeting, were recommended to back changes to Comins Coch Primary School, St Padarn’s Catholic Primary School, Llwyn yr Eos Primary School, Plascrug Primary School, and New Quay Primary School.

In addition to amending the language medium of the foundation learning to Welsh for all five, Comins Coch and St Padarn’s Catholic Primary School included admitting three-year-old pupils on a part-time basis.

Last May, Cabinet agreed that statutory consultations should take place on the proposals, which took place last autumn, followed by Cabinet publishing a statutory notice on March 1, providing a 28-day notice period for any objections to be submitted.

Three objections to the changes at Comins Coch were received, with concerns including claims the consultation was flawed, the proposals would decrease the diversity of the local population, especially those working at the university, by removing the English language aspect, and creating difficulties for English-only-speaking parents.

Those concerns were also raised for the other Aberystwyth-based schools: St Padarn’s, which had a total of four objections, Llwyn yr Eos, and Plascrug.

Plascrug had more concerns raised than the other schools, with 23 objections received, one respondent describing it as “politically motivated” and a “fait accompli,” another saying it would have “a negative effect on refugees,” while another saying “full immersion in Welsh” would be an additional barrier to those with additional learning needs.

Concerns at Plascrug also referenced a 143-strong change.org petition, entitled Reject Welsh medium teaching in the Foundation Phase at Ysgol Plascrug school.

That petition said: “Ceredigion County Council has decided to implement Welsh medium teaching in the Foundation Phase of Ysgol Plascrug School as part of the Local Authority’s implementation of Welsh in Education Strategic Plan.

“I and other parents are concerned that this is not the best way to teach very young children. Children learn better through their mother tongue, and non-Welsh speaking families will not be able to support their children with developing reading and writing skills at home to compliment the teaching in school.

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“The majority of schools in Ceredigion are Welsh medium so there are plenty of options available for Welsh speaking families to have their children educated through the medium of Welsh. Plascrug is one of the few schools that offer bilingual teaching.

“We fully support children being taught Welsh and support bilingual teaching and want teaching in the Foundation Phase to be in Welsh and English.

“Therefore, we the undersigned wish to object to the Local Authority’s plan to change teaching to Welsh medium in the Foundation Phase at Plascrug School by September 2024. We wish the school to retain its present policy of bilingual teaching across all ages and year groups.”

New Quay saw a different issue, with no formal objections but concerns about the potential impact on the existing Welsh-speaking nursery being raised.

Cabinet members agreed to amend the language medium to Welsh at New Quay, Llwyn yr Eos, Plascrug, Comins Coch, and St Padarn’s, with the latter two also admitting three-year-olds on a part-time basis.

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