SOME parents have objected to plans to introduce Welsh language education for new pupils at four primary schools in Carmarthenshire.
Council chiefs want foundation phase lessons to be taught in Welsh at Ysgol Y Ddwylan in Newcastle Emlyn, Ysgol Griffith Jones in St Clears, Ysgol Llangynnwr in Carmarthen, and Whitland’s Ysgol Llys Hywel.
There would then be a choice of Welsh or English education for these pupils when they reached key stage two.
The council also wants Ysgol Rhys Prichard, Llandovery, to be a Welsh language school – and carried out a consultation this summer to canvass opinions.
Two-thirds of the 54 Ysgol Rhys Prichard respondents did not support the proposal, saying it would remove parental choice and make it harder for parents to support their kids. Some even claimed it was discrimination.
Supporters said the move was a progression, and adhered to overarching council and Welsh Government policies to boost bilingualism.
There was a similar pattern among respondents for Ysgol Y Ddwylan, while the far fewer Ysgol Griffiths Jones respondents were in favour of the change.
Meanwhile the 44 Ysgol Llangynnwr responses strongly supported the proposal, whereas just under half backed the idea for Ysgol Llys Hywel.
Discussing the results at an education and children scrutiny meeting, Cllr Kim Broom said: “I think we are missing a trick or two by not promoting the success of children who go through it.”
Aeron Rees, head of curriculum and wellbeing, said there was a lot of published material promoting bilingual and Welsh language education, including testimonies from parents who were worried to start with but “who took the plunge”.
Executive board member for education and children, Cllr Glynog Davies, said the response numbers were low and that people who were in favour of a proposal tended not to reply to consultations.
Referring to the above schools, except Ysgol Rhys Prichard, he said: “The majority of children come from outside Carmarthenshire.
“It is my duty to specifically provide an education for the people of Carmarthenshire and to promote Carmarthenshire’s language policy.
“I don’t know where the parents who have answered have come from.”
Cllr Davies said the council wanted children to be confident in both languages when they reached the age of 11.
Councillors on the committee asked what support would be given to teachers, and to parents who didn’t speak Welsh.
Cllr Darren Price said there was good advice available on this.
“It’s important that good practice goes around the county,” he said.
Mr Rees welcomed an idea that app-based homework could be rolled out.
“I think that’s a great suggestion,” he said.
The committee approved the proposals and recommended that the executive board publishes a statutory notice in the coming weeks, with the planned changes to come into force in 2020.