Monday, 8 December 2008

Council not responding to demand for Welsh medium education

In the November meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council, Plaid councillors from the Llanelli area launched a strong attack on the county council’s Executive Board for not doing enough to meet the demand for Welsh-medium education in the Llanelli area.

Cllr Huw Lewis said, “There is a serious crisis in Welsh medium education in the Llanelli area. Children are not getting the education that their parents want for them, and are having to appeal regularly against the education department’s decisions. I know that the capacity is being increased, but it not increasing fast enough to meet the ever-growing demand.

“Looking ahead to next September, Ysgol Dewi Sant has already received 128 applications for only 60 places. The situation is becoming critical, and parents requesting Welsh-medium education for their children are just not getting fair play. It is completely wrong that parents have no difficulty at all securing a place in English-medium education, but have to fight every step of the way for Welsh-medium places. That is not what a bilingual policy should mean.”

His call for urgent action was supported by Cllr Gwyn Hopkins, who drew attention to the low proportion of children receiving Welsh-medium education in Llanelli, compared to the rest of the county. “In Llanelli area,” he said, “only some 25% of the children are receiving Welsh-medium education, compared to 60% in the rest of the county. That statistic highlights the huge discrepancy in the provision being made by the council, and underlines the need to treat Llanelli as a special case.

“The policy adopted by the council a few years ago is being overtaken by events as the demand grows much faster than expected, and that means that the plans currently being implemented by the council are a case of too little too late.

“In Llangennech alone, where there are separate English and Welsh streams we are seeing continuous growth in the Welsh stream and a continuous fall in the English stream. The council must respond to the demand more quickly than is happening at the moment, and that means, at an absolute minimum, planning for a complete new school over and above everything else which is being done.”

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