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Ysgol Bro Caereinion to become Welsh medium school

Now the secondary school campus for Ysgol Bro Caereinion the former Caereinion High School - in Llanfair Caereinion which is set to become a Welsh Medium School (Pic: Google Streetview)

A SECOND all through primary and secondary school in Montgomeryshire will become a Welsh medium school.

But concerns remain that extra funding and changes to the school’s transport policy will be needed to ensure that the transition of Ysgol Bro Caereinion in Llanfair Caereinion from dual stream to Welsh medium will be a success in the long term.

At meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, May 28 councillors received the “objections” report which forms the last stage of the legal process of changing a school’s category.

The objections period was held between April 8 and May 6.

The proposal had received 16 objections, and these covered a number of issues which had been rebutted point by point in the report.

Schools transformation manager Marianne Evans said: “There were a few areas of concern.”

These were around the need to support pupils with additional learning needs as they transfer from English to Welsh medium education.

Another major concern raised is the availability of staff that can teach subjects in Welsh.

Ms Evans explained that working groups had been set up to look at both issues, ways of developing the “necessary support” for children with ALN who transfer from an English to Welsh medium school while the scarcity of fluent Welsh speaking teacher is a national issue.

Llanfair Caereinion county councillor and school governor Cllr Gareth Jones of the Powys Independent group said: “Thank you for listening to some of the concerns as we’ve gone along this process.”

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He said concerns around school transport and capital investment needed for the school buildings had now been addressed.

But a tailor made funding package for the school which he brought up at a previous meeting in Marcg was still missing.

Cllr Jones said: “The bespoke 10 year funding package to make this work is not seen here.

“This is the start, and for this to work we need additional monies over and above the funding formula.

“We know that (pupil) numbers will decline in the initial transition period, we have got to be seen attracting learners to the school.

“I would like reassurances that work is being done behind the scenes to support this.”

Cllr Gareth D Jones (Pic: Powys County Council)

Ms Evans said that these funding issues had been raised with the Welsh Government: “all the time.”

“I strongly believe that revenue support is required alongside capital funding, I can’t promise a 10 year package, but it is something we will be looking at,” said Ms Evans.

Education portfolio holder Liberal Democrat, Cllr Pete Roberts said that he had raised the issue at a recent WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association) meeting between local authority education chiefs and the new Welsh Government cabinet secretary for education, Lynne Neagle MS.

Cllr Roberts said he was met: “with a response that recognises these issues and that there are challenges in the current financial environment.”

Cabinet member for a safer Powys, Liberal Democrat Cllr Richard Church:  “We’ve already demonstrated in Powys that there is the demand from English speaking parents for their children to have the opportunity to attend Welsh medium education.”

“I see that very clearly as a governor of Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng in Welshpool where that school is rapidly growing overwhelmingly with children from English speaking families.

“We made important steps on primary education in Powys, but ended up with a situation where as children move on into secondary education we have not been able to provide that continuity of Welsh medium education.

“With this decision we will be able to do that.

“I think it’s a historic step and for it to be happening in the same week as Urdd (Eisteddfod) on in Meifod is a very welcome coincidence.”

Cllr Richard Church (Pic: Powys County Council)

Cabinet voted to unanimously back the proposal which will see the transition of Ysgol Bro Caereinion to Welsh-medium, introduced on a phased basis, year-by-year, starting with reception class in September 2025 and year seven in September 2026.

A temporary measure will also 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.