THERE have been calls for a new 3-16 super school in the Pontypridd area to keep the name Hawthorn as residents have raised concerns about the options for the name that have been proposed.
The council is consulting again on the names of two new 3-16 schools and a new Welsh medium school in Pontypridd.
The potential names for the new all through 3–16 school at Hawthorn are Ysgol Afon Wen/White River School, Ysgol Glan Dwr/Waterside School, Ysgol Cae Celyn/Hollyfield School or Ysgol Coed Ilan/Ilan Woods School with an “other” option too.
For the all through 3-16 school in Pontypridd the options are Ysgol Gymunedol Bro Taf / Taff Vale Community School. Ysgol Bro Taf / Taff Vale School, Ysgol Gymunedol Pontypridd / Pontypridd Community School or Ysgol Pontypridd / Pontypridd School.
And for the new Welsh medium primary school in Rhydyfelin the options are Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Awel y Taf / Taff Breeze Welsh Medium Primary School, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Dyffryn Corrwg / Corrwg Vale Medium Primary School, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg yr Hen Bont / The Old Bridge Welsh Medium Primary School, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Bro Ilan / Ilan Vale Welsh Medium Primary School or Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Ynysangahard / Ynysangharad Welsh Medium Primary School.
A decision was due to be made by cabinet on Tuesday, February 28 but the report was deferred and another consultation is taking place ending on April 4.
In the cabinet report it said that the headteachers and temporary governors of the three new schools have carried out extensive consultation on new names for the three schools and have agreed on suitable names for cabinet’s consideration.
Cabinet agreed at their meeting held on July 18, 2019 to formally confirm the proposals to create new 3–16 all through schools in Hawthorn and Pontypridd and a new Welsh medium primary school in Rhydyfelin.
Temporary governing bodies were then appointed at all three schools, to oversee decisions on establishing the schools.
Since then, the temporary governing bodies have appointed headteachers and it is thought that the process of appointing all other staff will start in the spring term of 2023 with all three schools due to open in September 2024.
Work on the branding including signs and logos, school uniform choices and school colours depends on the school names being approved, the February 2023 cabinet report said.
Each headteacher carried out consultation with the pupils and staff of the schools that will close to create the new schools.
The temporary governing bodies considered the proposals and each of them agreed on four options for each school to consult with all pupils, staff, governors and the community via a survey on the RCT website.
For the Hawthorn 3-16 school, Ysgol Afon Wen received the highest number of votes (35%) in the initial consultation while for the Pontypridd 3-16 school Ysgol Bro Taf received the highest number of votes (43.1%).
For the new Welsh medium primary school, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Awel Taf received the highest number of votes (39%).
But some residents in Hawthorn are against the proposed name change for the school in their area.
Local resident Christine Thompson said she went there, her mum went there and her children went to the primary school.
She said she can’t understand how, if the children were involved in bringing the names forward, they decided on four Welsh names for English medium schools.
She said the “rebranding” does not change the ethos or standard of education in a school.
She said that it was a “tick box” exercise in terms of meeting the Welsh Government’s targets for the number of Welsh speakers and that it could be “undermining” the English language which she said is “more beneficial to children in the wider world.”
She said: “The emphasis should be on education rather than rebranding.”
She went on to say that the Welsh Government are being “too insular” and “not thinking about the wider impact.”
She said: “If you want a house, a car and holidays, you need to be earning good money.
“You need a career, transferable skills, so that employers want you and will pay the salary you need. I doubt you’re going to get it in Wales.”
She said they’re losing skills and that many people don’t come back to Wales after university and get jobs elsewhere.
Referring to the proposed name Afon Wen (White River), she said there’s no white water in the river and no rapids.
She said: “It has always been Hawthorn because there have been Hawthorn trees. Why are they so adamant about ditching it? Why are we getting a new logo?”
She raised concern about the funding of the rebranding coming out of the school’s budget and said “shouldn’t that be going on education?”
She also raised concern about how much the uniform would cost parents and said: “The essential thing is getting good quality teachers to give good quality education so that these children have a future. They are our future.”
Hawthorn resident Denise Morgan, who went to the school, said she can understand trying to bring in the Welsh language but not the name change.
She said: “Hawthorn school has been part of the community for many many years.”
She added that it’s easy to find it locally and said the name Afon Wen/White River “means nothing at all to the school for me and many other people.
“I am looking to try to say why do they need to change this name.”
She said she understands that they are trying to establish the Welsh language but said that most people in the area are English speaking and there are no links with any place names in the proposed name.
She said the community is proud of its school and is developing links with the school with the children singing in choirs and interviewing members of the community about their past.
“Why do they want to take the name away from our locality when we are building links? It would be a shame to see the name gone. It’s got historical links.”
She said she wants to keep the name Hawthorn and feels the suggestions have been put forward as a “fait accompli.”
She said she doesn’t know how many people know about the consultation and said: “Coming up with a one out of thin air makes no sense.
She said it was nice to get the children involved but added that Hawthorn has a meaning and has an identity and that “a lot of people have got fond memories of Hawthorn.”
A spokesman for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said: “A shortlist of potential names for each of the six schools directly involved in the £75.6m investment across Greater Pontypridd have been put forward by the staff and pupils of the affected schools.
“The pupils have played an important role in determining a suitable school name and have been able to have their say prior to a wider public consultation.
“While it is not a statutory requirement to engage in a public consultation, the temporary governing bodies of the three new schools agreed to this element in the process – ensuring that the process has been as open and transparent as possible.
“The public consultation has also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to put forward other names for consideration, beyond the names suggested by learners and school staff.
“The wider consultation has ensured that the process has gone further than any previous Council consultation for naming a new school, which in itself is not a statutory requirement.
“This has allowed headteachers, staff, pupils and the community to have their say, before the consultation outcomes are considered by the Temporary Governing Body of each school, and approval is sought by the Council’s Cabinet.”
The closing date for the consultations on the school names is Tuesday, April 4.