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Swansea Council goes to consultation on plans to grow Welsh Medium education

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Parents, pupils, teachers and the wider community are set to be asked for their views on plans to continue to increase the number of Welsh speaking young people in Swansea.

Swansea Council aims to increase provision for Welsh-medium education in the city including for pre-school children and for post 16 study for both academic and vocational courses.

The plans are contained in the council’s updated Welsh in Education Strategic Plan which is designed to help Swansea to play its part in helping the Welsh Government achieve its target of one million Welsh speakers by the year 2050.

During the last 20 years the number of pupils in Swansea accessing Welsh medium education has doubled from 2,581 in 2001 to 5,228 at the start of this year.

This has been supported by the opening of a further three Welsh-medium primary schools and one additional Welsh-medium comprehensive school bringing the numbers to 10 and 2 respectively.

Thanks to the 21st Century Schools Programme which is jointly funded by Swansea Council and the Welsh Government a record £170m is currently being invested to improve school buildings and facilities across both Welsh and English medium schools.

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This includes additional Welsh-medium places which are being created with the opening of the new and enhanced accommodation for YGG Tan-y-lan and YGG Tirdeunaw early next year.

Additional classroom space at YGG Bryn y Môr and YGG Y Login Fach will follow and the council will also continue to work with early providers to increase the provision for pre-school Welsh language provision.

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The plan also sets how the council will work with partners to increase opportunities for young people to use their Welsh language skills outside of school and how it will build on good work being done in English medium schools to teach Welsh.

Swansea Council’s Cabinet is being asked to agree to a public consultation on the plans.

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Cabinet Member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills, Robert Smith, said: “The Welsh Government has set a target of growing the number of Welsh speakers to one million by the year 2050 and Swansea is keen to play its part in helping to reach this ambitious target.

“The number of pupils being taught through the medium of Welsh in our schools has increased markedly and our strategic plan sets out how we will build on this success.

“In the plan we include the many other ways we will support the growth of bilingualism and if Cabinet agrees to the consultation I would hope as many people as possible give their views when it is launched at the end of September.

“In promoting bilingualism, we are giving all our children an opportunity to thrive in the language of their choice, increasing their life opportunities and by learning more than one language, facilitating the learning of other languages.”

Lead image: Artists impression of new Tirdaunau Primary School (Image: Powell Dobson Architects / Swansea Council)

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Education

Neath Abbey Welsh medium primary school given go-ahead

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Neath Port Talbot Council’s new Rainbow Coalition Cabinet has agreed to move forward with plans to open Neath Port Talbot’s first ever Welsh medium primary “starter school” at Neath Abbey.

The new Welsh medium starter school in premises previously occupied by Abbey Primary School at St John’s Terrace, Neath Abbey, could welcome its first pupils next January if fully approved.

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Part of the council’s strategy to increase Welsh medium education across the county borough, the Cabinet agreed to move the starter school plan to its next stage – publication of a statutory proposal to establish the new school.

The starter school model is used when establishing a new school, gradually allowing the facilities and staff to be used efficiently while the school grows to its full potential.

Under the plans, £200,000 would be set aside for refurbishments and improvements including the provision of learning walls and digital equipment ensuring the school can deliver the new curriculum.

Cllr Nia Jenkins, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Training, said: “This council has a ten year target to increase the number of Year 1 children taught through the medium of Welsh from 16.8% in 2020/21 to 31% (460 pupils) by 2032 and this proposed new school will help reach that target.

“It also complements the national vision for the Welsh language, to have a million Welsh speakers by 2050.”

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(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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Education

Pontarddulais school’s physical education department supported by Amazon

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A comprehensive school in Pontarddulais has received a £1,000 donation from the Amazon fulfilment centre in Swansea.

Pontarddulais Comprehensive School plans to use the donation to purchase new safety mats for use in PE lessons.

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They say this will allow their pupils to enjoy activities such as gymnastics and inspire more pupils to follow in the footsteps of their peers who have recently succeeded at a national level.

Christopher Law, General Manager at Amazon in Swansea, said: “At Amazon, we recognise the value of extra-curricular development, and we are pleased to lend a helping hand to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School with this donation. We wish the school well as it seeks to inspire and engage the leaders of tomorrow through both academic and physical education.”

Nigel Hughes, who is an engineer at Amazon in Swansea and put the school forward for the donation, added: “My children receive a fantastic education and genuine support at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, and it’s great that Amazon is providing this donation to help fund new equipment.”

Julie Evans, Area Coordinator for Health and Wellbeing at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, said: “We want to thank Christopher and the Amazon team in Swansea. This kind and generous donation will support us in continuing to create the high-quality facilities required for a first-class educational experience. It will be a great addition allowing us to strengthen and expand our school’s physical activity opportunities.”

The donation to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School was made as part of Amazon’s programme to support the communities in and around its operating locations across the UK.

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(Lead image: Pontarddulais Comprehensive School)

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Education

Council to review Swansea Valley ‘Super School’ decision made by previous administration

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A reprieve could be on the cards for Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools as Neath Port Talbot’s new coalition administration say they want to review the decision made to create a new ‘super school’ in Pontardawe.

The new administration says it wants to establish if an alternative way to bring 21st Century School standards to the Swansea Valley can be achieved, which would be more acceptable to the community.

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The decision to establish a new £22.7m English-medium 3-11 school and specialist Learning Support Centre for pupils with a statement of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Pontardawe to replace Alltwen, Godre’rgraig and Llangiwg Primary schools was taken by Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet on October 20th, 2021.

The controversial decision triggered a process of communicating with local schools around the next steps and general planning for the construction of the new school and swimming pool.

A successful tender exercise took place to secure a contractor to begin stage one of a two stage process.

Neath Port Talbot Council say that under its own procurement rules, it says it has been necessary to approve the appointment of the contractor to undertake Stage 1 contract works only, with no obligation on the council to proceed to the second stage. Stage 1 includes developing the design information; carrying out assessments of traffic and site conditions; ground investigations; and obtaining planning approval.

The council say that this first stage contract does not commit them to the construction of the school and pool, with a further contract being entered into at Stage 2, which is the actual construction phase. 

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It adds that allowing stage 1 works to progress will ensure that the opportunities to meet the timescales of the October 2021 decision could still be realised if a review does not highlight any changes are needed to the project.

This will avoid further anxiety for the school staff and families due to unnecessary delays, particularly important for those pupils in Godre’rgraig Primary School who are currently educated in temporary accommodation awaiting the new school.

Neath Port Talbot Council say they will now start discussions with Welsh Government Ministers to establish what information they might require from the council. This will inform the consultation process which the council will undertake with stakeholders.

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