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Home to school transport policy needs to be reviewed ahead of school’s language change

A Powys County Council school bus

HOME to school transport policy needs to be reviewed before a secondary school in Llanfair Caereinion changes from dual stream to Welsh medium, a council education chief has said.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, May 28 councillors agreed a proposal that Llanfair Caereinion’s all through primary and secondary school Ysgol Bro Caereinion becomes a Welsh medium school.

This will happen in  phased approach starting with tarting with reception (primary school) in September 2025 and year seven (secondary school)  in September 2026.

An issue that had been brought up during the objections period is school transport.

As part of changes to the original proposal, the council had agreed to allow current English stream pupils in years four and below at both Ysgol Bro Caereinon and Ysgol Rhiw Bechan (Tregynon) to receive home to school transport to their nearest English medium school.

Plaid Cymru’s Cllr Bryn Davies who represents parts of the Bro Caereinion catchment area brought up the school transport issue.

Cllr Davies said: “The policy needs to recognise and reflect the major difference between Welsh medium and dual stream schools.

“In the meantime, and until that policy is changed, we see the education portfolio holder is using discretionary powers to allow children to travel to English medium schools for about four years.

“I understand why, but in the same way it’s important that the discretionary powers are used to allow the necessary transport to be laid on for those who want to be educated in Welsh at Bro Caereinion, so that is a success.”

He added that children from all across Montgomeryshire should be given the opportunity of attending Bro Caereinion should they wish to do so and “at the moment” the policy does not allow that.

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Cllr Bryn Davies (Pic: Powys County Council)

Conservative group leader Cllr Aled Davies had also raised the transport concerns.

Cllr Davies said: “All children across Powys should have equal access to a Welsh medium education.”

He said it was “good” to see the concession, but it will “unravel in time” as the pupils grow older and move up through the school.

Cllr Davies added that his group had been pushing for a more flexible transport policy to enable parents to choose the school they want to send their children to.

“That choice should not only be for parents who have the resources to transport the children themselves,” said Cllr Davies.

Cllr Aled Davies

Schools transformation manager Marianne Evans said that these issues had been mentioned in sections of the report.

Mr Evans said:  “If this policy is to be revised it would need to go out to a different consultation for home to school transport.

“Families will need to make an application for home to school transport and see what these decisions are under the policy.”

In the report, the council is advised to review their home to school transport policy to ensure that pupils wishing to access designated Welsh-medium secondary provision are able to do so.

Ms Evans said: “We need to review the policy and it’s something that needs to be done before we move in 2026.”

This is when the Bro Caereinion’s secondary school starts becoming a Welsh medium in 2026.

Education portfolio holder Liberal Democrat Cllr Peter Roberts stressed that the process of changing Bro Caereinion’s language “was not the place” to discuss school transport policy.

Cllr Roberts reminded Cllr (Aled) Davies that he should understand the process as during his time in cabinet he had led on the last change of the policy into its current form.

Cllr Roberts said: “A substantive change to schools transport involves a formal statutory process, which is why temporary measures have been put in place.”

Cllr Pete Roberts – Cabinet member for Learning Powys which includes the education portfolio (Pic: Powys County Council)