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LANGUAGE changes in five Carmarthenshire primary schools have been approved.

The decision by full council means all 188 pupils at Ysgol Rhys Prichard, Llandovery, will be taught in Welsh.

“The school wants this change,” said executive board member for education and children, Cllr Glynog Davies, at a meeting of full council.

“The children themselves are in agreement with this change.”

The plan had been to implement the change this month but this is not possible, although Cllr Davies said he hoped it would be done “as soon as is feasibly possible.”

Councillors also took decisions which will mean pupils in the foundation phase at Ysgol Y Ddwylan, Newcastle Emlyn, Ysgol Griffith Jones, St Clears, Ysgol Llangynnwr, near Carmarthen, and Ysgol Llys Hywel, Whitland, being taught in Welsh from September this year.

They will then have the choice of language provision at key stage 2, when they are seven years old.

Cllr Davies said: “My personal hope is that the change will go throughout the schools.”

He thanked council officers for their efforts in carrying out different stages of public consultation to prepare for the planned changes.

Cllr Ann Davies said getting children engaged in a second language before they were aged seven enabled them to acquire rather than learn it, which was a big difference.

The council wants all primary pupils to be able to speak, read and write Welsh and English fluently by the end of key stage 2. Its most recent strategy calling for a bilingual Carmarthenshire was approved in June 2018.

Carmarthenshire has 58 Welsh medium primaries and one secondary school one, with 25 English medium primaries and four secondary school ones. There are other schools which fall between the two categories.

The language journey has had its bumps though.

Three years ago a bitter council debate ended in approval for plans to remove English language education at Ysgol Llangennech.

Cllr Glynog Davies, who was not an executive board member at the time, described the 2017 meeting as “difficult and unpleasant”.

But he added: “Was there a reduction in the number of children going to Ysgol Llangennech? No, not at all.

“The school is successful – it is flourishing.”

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