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Fears raised over Welsh language education funding in Powys

Mid Wales | Education | Published:

Fears have been raised that Welsh language education in Powys will lose out as it is not part of the new schools’ funding formula.

During a meeting of the Learning Skills and Economy Scrutiny Committee, which looked again at the funding formula, Plaid Cymru county councillor for Llanwddyn, Bryn Davies, raised his concerns.

But he was told by Director of Education, Ian Budd, and portfolio holder, councillor Myfanwy Alexander, that his arguments should be part of a different discussion.

Funding Review Group (FRG) chairman and school governor Graham Taylor said that the group had not discussed language as part of the review.

According to the department the new formula gives children their educational offer under the current structure.

Any education policy change such as the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan will change that provision for the future.

Part of this plan is to build a new Welsh Medium School in Newtown in the next five years.

Councillor Davies said: “This just argues for the status quo.

“Unless we change the nature of education in line with the (Welsh) Government’s expectation we will never increase the number of Welsh speakers. This is supposed to be an aspiration for Powys.”

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He added: “We have relied upon central grant funding to maintain the “trochi” (immersion) streams in our secondary schools.

“Despite their success they have been closed

“It’s very important that this core funding includes ‘trochi’ in high schools.

“I want to discuss this in more depth with the department soon.”

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Mr Budd replied: “The model of trochi is one that is deploying staff where individual children need that support.

“It’s not that we have such large numbers at present that we have centralised places in all parts of the county.

“We’re much more mobile and when a child expresses that need, we can support that individual in the school.

“I don’t think it should be part of the core funding formula.”

Councillor Alexander said: “The problem we have is that we don’t tend to have 20 people in one high school that need support. We’re trying to provide flexible support.

“You could have one family in Machynlleth and a family moving in to the Builth (Wells) area. If we had a unit, the problem would be that it would support one family more than the other (being geographically closer).

“If it’s part of the base budget, if children move from that unit, then the funding would be lost.”

Coucillor Davies said that he was continually “surprised and shocked” at the lack of ambition PCC was showing on the Welsh Language.

The funding formula, along with the scrutiny committee’s advice, will now go to cabinet for a decision on Tuesday, January 15. It is expected to come into force from April .

In June 2018, the Cabinet was forced to agree deficit budgets for schools in the red.

Story by Elgan Hearn - Local Democracy Reporter

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