Welsh-medium education plans 'too vague'
A TEACHING union and a pro-Welsh education campaign group have blasted draft council plans for the future of Welsh-medium education as too vague and lacking in targets.
Their comments come as Gwent councils insist "urgent" work is being done to ensure there are enough Welsh-medium secondary school places in 2016, when Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool will be full.
But almost a year on from when the Argus first revealed the school was reaching capacity, neither the authorities nor Welsh Government have released any specific details about how they may achieve this, such as opening a new school.
This is despite plans in Torfaen to expand Welsh-medium primary school places.
Every Welsh council must produce a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan by June 1, for approval by Welsh ministers. Consultation on the draft plans ended yesterday.
After reviewing all 22 plans from across Wales, the group RhAG (Rhieni dros Addysg Gymraeg or Parents for Welsh Medium Education) and the union UCAC (Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru or National Union of Teachers of Wales) found a significant proportion were generally inadequate, lacking in ambition and tangible and measurable targets.
Last May the Argus reported that Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw, which had undergone a £12 million revamp to make room for more pupils, will reach its 1,100-pupil capacity by 2016/17.
It is Gwent’s only Welsh-medium secondary school which accepts pupils from neighbouring counties, not just Torfaen.
Caerphilly council opened a new 900-place Welsh school on the former St Illan site in September, as Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni is set to be well over capacity by 2021, but this only accepts students from that local authority.
Ceri Owen, RhAG development officer called on Welsh Government to adopt a tough stance on this matter and urged the education minister to "use the new powers in his possession to reject all plans which are too weak, general and vague".
Elin Maher, parent and chairwoman of RhAG Newport, said education minister Huw Lewis has promised to be "Stalinistic" if, come June 1, councils' final plans do not spell out exactly what they plan to do to meet demand.
She said that the timeline of opening a new school by September 2016 is doable but "it's still not good enough that we haven't got any information at all" in these draft strategic plans.
Any decision made by the five authorities would still have to go through full public consultation.
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