Full steam ahead for flagship Welsh medium high school at Llanfair Caereinion
An historic call for a Welsh medium high school to serve Montgomeryshire has been heeded by Powys County Council.
At a meeting of the authority’s cabinet on Tuesday, September 26, senior councillors looked at a proposal to move Ysgol Bro Caereinion in Llanfair Caereinion along the language continuum at warp speed and begin the legal process of turning it into a Welsh medium school.
It was only in September last year that Llanfair Caereinion’s primary and high schools merged to become Ysgol Bro Caereinion – a four to 18-year-old all-through dual-stream school.
Schools transformation manager, Marianne Evans, told the meeting: “Historically there’s been a call for a designated Welsh medium secondary school in north Powys/Montgomeryshire for a long time.
“Ysgol Bro Caerenion became central in our thinking to developing Welsh medium provision.”
She said that the growth in the last few years of Welsh medium education at primary school level in the catchment area had provided the stimulus for the council to take the next step.
“The growth is there to be seen,” said Ms Evans.
Independent county councillor for Llanfair Caereinion and school governor, Councillor Gareth Jones said: “When the letter came to the school governors in July, we were really keen to go along the Welsh language continuum.”
“The pace has taken us by surprise somewhat – but it hasn’t reduced the enthusiasm.
“Ysgol Bro Caereinion has gone through a great deal of upheaval in the last couple of years.
“Forming an all-through school caused a lot of stress and anxiety for the staff, governors and pupils.”
He asked for assurances to be made to support the school with Welsh language immersion for pupils, as well as allowing staff to learn Welsh.
Councillor Jones said: “We need assurances that we’ll get the support to get through and we won’t have such a (budget) deficit that we’ll be unable to balance our books.
“It’s bums on seats that will give us every opportunity of moving forward.”
Ms Evans said: “I know there are concerns amongst parents in the English medium streams of Bro Caereinion and Ysgol Rhiw Bechan that this is too soon, and they are unprepared.
“We need to take the bull by the horns, so we will be putting in all the support required to make this happen.”
Plaid Cymru group leader, Councillor Elwyn Vaughan, who is also chairman of the council’s Welsh medium education panel, welcomed the decision.
He explained that the lack of a Welsh medium secondary school had caused much “pain and distress” in the area for the last 30 years.
Councillor Vaughan said: “Hallelujah. It’s been like an open wound and this recommendation today is a positive step forward.”
He added that Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng in Welshpool and Ysgol Dafydd Llwyd in Newtown will both be “integral and essential” to the sustainability of Bro Caereinion in the long-term.
The cabinet unanimously approved the report.