CYMDEITHAS yr Iaith has complained to Carmarthenshire Councillors that Council officers appear to be disregarding their instruction to use the next 4 months to engage with local communities regarding the future of village schools.
The Council’s Executive Board decided on March 1st to extend the consultation on proposals to close Ysgol Mynydd-y-Garreg and Ysgol Blaenau until the end of the summer term in response to the Education Minister’s revised guidelines about consultations during a pandemic. In doing so, Council Board Member with responsibility for education, Glynog Davies, stated that this would give time for alternatives to be properly discussed and that no decisions had been taken on the way forward, and this was publicly emphasised by other Board Members.
However Cymdeithas understand that Education Officers have rejected out of hand a detailed Business Plan put forward by Governors of Mynydd-y-Garreg which would see the school moving forward in federation with Ysgol Gwenllian Cydweli with investment in both locations.
On behalf of the Carmarthen Region of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, Ffred Ffransis explained “We know that the Governors responded positively to the consultation and put forward detailed proposals whereby the Mynydd-y-Garreg rural campus and the facilities on the Cydweli urban site would complement each other, and the upgrade at Mynydd-y-Garreg would cost just 5% of the total investment for the area, 66% of which would be paid by central government. These proposals would also have provided sufficient extra places, and a choice, for Welsh-medium education in the area.
Mr Ffransis continued “We understand that officers rejected out of hand at this one meeting any change to their current proposal to close the school, and that the four month period until mid-July will be wasted both for the anxious parents at Mynydd-y-Garreg and for Ysgol Gwenllian who are waiting yet longer for their new building which would already have been under construction were it not for the stubborn desire to close Mynydd-y-Garreg as part of the proposal. We understand that councillors feel that it would not now be right to make public statements during a pre-election period, but we have called on them to instruct officers to return to discuss constructively with governors their proposals.
Mr Ffransis added “A further disturbing aspect of these discussions is that closing Ysgol Mynydd-y-Garreg would mean that only a minority of school places in the whole area would be in Welsh-medium education.
Apparently, officers sought to justify this by saying that the new curriculum would mean that the local English-medium school would in time start using some Welsh as a medium of education. That is a dangerous argument which could be used all over the county and Wales to stop the development of Welsh-medium education. The curriculum is developing so that no pupil in Wales should be disadvantaged by not being able to communicate at all in Welsh, but that was never intended as an argument to undermine Welsh-medium education so that pupils were fully fluent in both languages.”