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Review of Welsh medium education plans in Caerphilly County Borough after Welsh Government cuts spending

Published in News on Tuesday July 19th, 2011. Last updated at 07:54

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An artist's Impression of the proposed development at the former St Ilan site in Caerphilly

An artist's Impression of the proposed development at the former St Ilan site in Caerphilly

Ambitious plans to overhaul Welsh medium education in Caerphilly County Borough are in doubt after the Welsh Government slashed funding.

Leading members of Caerphilly County Borough Council have said the plans will be reviewed following the cuts.

A £3.5m development to turn the former site of St Ilan school in Caerphilly into a Welsh language comprehensive for Years 7 to 9 will still go ahead.

The long term intention was to replicate this in other parts of the county allowing the Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni site to further develop as a ‘centre of excellence’ for pupils aged 14 to 19.

The council also needs funding from the Welsh Government so that Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Caerffili can be relocated to the Phoenix building on the site of St Ilan.

The cuts by the Welsh Government to its 21st Century Schools programme will mean the council will have to contribute 50% of the cost of the new schemes – instead of the original 30%.

In a written statement to AMs, Education Minister Leighton Andrews said: “There has been a sharp reduction in capital funding imposed on the Welsh Government – taken together a reduction of 40% will occur across the current funding period.

“Against that background, the board and the Welsh Government consider that authorities must be given the opportunity to review the timing and content of their planned investments so as to take the hard decisions early that will ensure funding goes to the delivery of excellence in education not the maintenance of buildings.”

The announcement has provoked severe reaction from councillors.

Cabinet member for education Phil Bevan stated: “This decision means we will have to re-draft the whole 21st Century schools plan because the Welsh Labour Government has cut its funding from 70% 50% and it is likely we face having to make very painful decisions.”

Cllr Allan Pritchard, leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council said: “The 21st Century schools policy is in a shambles.

“They have encouraged education authorities to spend a huge amount of time money and resources preparing plans they had no intention of funding. This is a betrayal of parents, teachers and children who have been misled into thinking better facilities were on the way and the Labour Government in Cardiff should be thoroughly ashamed.”

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  • jonathan brace

    Welsh medium education is a distraction, with children educated in this way struggling in Higher education in British universities without the practice of good background in the English language, English is not just the language of our neighbours in England it is the International language. The time money and resource wasted on Welsh medium education is unbeleivable. The money would be better spent on raising literacy across Wales and real Job creation in the private sector. It seems a lot of our politians and our civil servants live in an alternate universe with romantic notions of their Wales. So may be the cuts have been a win for common sense.

  • Derek Havard

    I don't fit the Bryn Terfel specification of a real Welshman, ie 'fluent Welsh speaker, immersed in the traditions of the Eisteddfodau etc' but I personally think that I am thoroughly Welsh right through [and not just when we play England]. However, I do find myself sympathising with the views of Mr Brace. We seem to have lost track of our Welshness when we are told that so many of our children are barely literate in any language – but especially their own tongue [which is English for most of us - whether our local politicians like it or not]. Education was once denied us, but has always been a 'must' for our forebears,as essential as putting food on the table, and forged hard into the Welsh psyche as a 'way out' of poverty and unemployment.The medium, English, Welsh or both is a personal choice and it would be a perfect world if there was plenty of choice, with all the schools and resources available. But they are not – so we should concentrate on raising the standards in Wales with the realism of the finances we've got. It is not a slight on Welshness to ensure that our children are literate in English – the rest of the world strive for that goal – and I think that our local politicians should realise that most of them don't meet the 'Bryn Terfel Test' either.

    Recent reports are not good for our education standards in Wales and I would hope that we can all work together to ensure that we raise them across the board.We have the talent – now we need the will.