Newport parents ‘happy’ in mealtimes debate
12:35pm Tuesday 3rd December 2013 in News
PARENTS of children with autism at a Welsh-language school are happy for their children to eat separately at lunchtimes, despite reports that pupils are being segregated due to language issues.
Last week it was reported that children at the Brynglas autism unit, which was previously part of the English speaking Brynglas Primary School but is now part of Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon, were eating lunch in their own classrooms, rather than with other pupils.
Following the move from an English to a Welsh speaking school, to become a satellite unit of Maes Ebbw School, parents were asked for their opinion on whether they were happy for their children to eat separately on the basis that Bro Teyrnon pupils are encouraged to speak Welsh at all times.
The majority were happy with the situation, said a spokeswoman for Newport council, and the well-being of the children is “of paramount importance” to the authority.
Last week the Argus reported that Newport councillor David Fouweather challenged the separation and described it as “cruel”.
But a joint statement from Maes Ebbw School and Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon regarding the lunchtime arrangements said the decision was made because children in Bro Teyrnon are encouraged to speak Welsh at all times, including at break times.
“During the autumn term it was suggested that they could use the hall for lunch after Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon pupils, but the majority of parents at that time preferred the status quo,” said the statement.
“Parents are able to discuss any concerns with the schools and changes could be made in future if that is their wish.
“Teachers at the centre have not reported any negative impact or deterioration in behaviour since the new arrangements began.”
A spokeswoman from the National Autistic Society Cymru said autism affects how a person communicates and relates to other people and how they make sense of the world around them.
“Children and adults with autism prefer routine so that they know what is going to happen to them,” she said.
“People with autism quite often find it extremely difficult to cope with disruption and will take time to adapt.”
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