GWENT councils should be able to build new Welsh-medium schools from their existing budgets to meet demand, the First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.

Mr Jones spoke to journalists yesterday at the launch of an awareness-raising campaign, held at Ysgol Gymraeg Trelyn in Pengam, Blackwood, a few miles down the road from the Welsh-medium high school Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymi.

The Argus reported in May this year how Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool, Gwent’s only Welsh-medium secondary school which accepts pupils from multiple counties, is expected to reach capacity by 2016/17.

Under the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013, local authorities are required in certain circumstances to measure demand for Welsh-medium education and a regional planning group is currently looking at possible Gwent site.

The Argus asked the First Minister to comment on the plea of campaign group Rhieni Dros Addysg Gymraeg (RhAG), which translates as Parents for Welsh Medium Education, for the  Welsh Government to make capital investment in Welsh-medium education.

He said: "We know there's been tremendous growth [in Welsh language usage] from a very low base and that's to be welcomed, but looking to ensure sufficient places is true of all forms of education.

"It comes down to whether local authorities should be in charge of education and it's our belief that they should," he said. "They are expected to meet criteria. I would expect them to provide sufficient places from their budgets."

The First Minister's three-year campaign, which he said is funded from the Welsh language budget, is set to target expectant parents and parents with children aged 0 to three, offering them information and advice on sending their child to a Welsh-medium or bilingual school.

"People know that Welsh-medium education is available in their areas but I've heard parents say it's a big step, or they don't know if they'll be able to help their children," said Mr Jones, where he read a story about a magician to reception pupils at Ysgol Gymraeg Trelyn. "These issues can be overcome."

The First Minister cited supermarket staff wearing badges if they speak Welsh as one way of encouraging Welsh to be spoken in communities and every-day life, rather than just at school.

"The biggest issue facing the Welsh language in the next 10 years is use. It's important [for there to be] access to Welsh-medium comprehensive schools that aren't too far away from where people live. That's got to be dealt with by the old Gwent in the next five to 10 years."