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Council approve change to Ysgol Bro Caereinion

Controversial plans to change the language category of Ysgol Bro Caereinion to Welsh-medium have been approved by the county council.

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Controversial plans to change the language category of Ysgol Bro Caereinion to Welsh-medium have been approved by the county council.

The plans mean that Ysgol Bro Caereinion will become the second Welsh-medium all-age school in Powys.

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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 language 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.”

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.”

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.

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.

The proposal will be introduced on a phased basis starting with Reception in September 2025 and Year 7 in September 2026.

As part of the proposal, the council will offer free home-to-school transport to pupils at years 4 and below at Ysgol Bro Caereinion and Ysgol Rhiw Bechan to their nearest English-medium secondary provider when they transfer from primary to secondary, should that be their preference.

Additional support would be provided to pupils not yet in the Welsh stream as part of the proposal. This would be in the form of immersive Welsh language support 'Trochi', to enable pupils currently in the English stream in the school's primary phase to transfer to Welsh-medium provision. This type of provision has previously been delivered successfully in the county and in other authorities to enable pupils to transfer from English-medium education to Welsh-medium education.

Cllr Pete Roberts, Cabinet Member for a Learning Powys, said:

"This is a significant decision which has been taken when the Maldwyn 2024 Urdd Eisteddfod is being held in our county.

"Implementing this proposal will see the council provide well planned provision for increasing the opportunities for a growing number of children and young people to become fully bilingual, fluent in both Welsh and English and therefore contributing to the Welsh Government's aspiration to achieve a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

"This proposal meets the aims of the Strategy for Transforming Education in Powys and implements the commitments in our Welsh in Education Strategic Plan, which will enable us to make good progress against our target of increasing the number of pupils being taught through the medium of Welsh.

"It is important that Cabinet heard the views of those who have objected to the proposal and these were carefully considered before the decision was made."

Additional reporting by Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter.

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