Plaid Cymru's councillors in Carmarthenshire have published their response to the county council's proposals for reform of secondary education in the county. The group's leader, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, said that he had formally submitted a copy of the group's comments to the Director of Education. In a comprehensive rejection of the county council's approach, the Plaid group have called for an immediate halt to what they describe as a 'fundamentally flawed' process.
Cllr Hughes Griffiths said, "The council seem determined to proceed full pelt with a scheme which ignores key elements of the advice which the Assembly Government have given them. Specifically, they have been asked for a scheme for the whole county, yet have prepared a scheme for only part of the county; they have been asked to consider possible cross-border arrangements and have chosen not to do so; and they have been asked to consider all potential partners, such as Coleg Sir Gâr, but again, have chosen not to do so. As if that was not enough, they have ignored their own scheme for Welsh medium education, have refused to waith until the Assembly Government's own proposals on Welsh medium education are published, and have even refused to carry out a survey to assess the true level of demand for Welsh-medium education.
"All in all, the result is that their proposals are rushed, badly thought through, and seriously defective. They have caused a great deal of unnecessary concern throughout the area affected, and include a series of proposals with which many parents are deeply unhappy. We cannot support these proposals as they stand and have urged the county council to halt the process now, and draw up a comprehensive plan, on the basis of a meaningful level of consultation with all parties.
"It is completely unacceptable to leave an area such as Llandovery as some sort of 'educational desert' at secondary level, as the county seems to be planning. And leaving the whole of the Dinefwr area with no Welsh-medium provision at secondary level is to ignore the linguistic character and history of the area. Even when they plan to protect and expand Welsh-medium provision, such as in Cwm Gwendraeth, their plan fails to address the issues which arise from attempting to accommodate the hundreds of children currently receiving a wholly or predominantly English-medium education in the area. They have managed to get to a situation where, by trying to rush things through, they have pleased almost nobody."
The Plaid councillors held their own, highly successful, series of consultation meetings on the issue. "We didn't go into those meetings," said Cllr Hughes Griffiths, "the way the county council went into theirs, with a series of options which limited the discussion. We went in with a blank sheet of paper; we went to listen, not to tell. We found people were open and ready to debate, but what they do not like is having what looks like a fait accompli foisted on them by the council. Even at this stage, we are urging the council to think again, and produce a plan which addresses all the issues in the whole of the county, not just some in a part."