A MEETING of the Education Scrutiny Committee on Monday (May 23) has recommended that a proposal for the change in language status of Llangennech School should proceed for consideration by the County Council’s Executive Board.
Llangennech’s existing schools are designated as ‘dual stream’.
In dual stream schools, a designation determined by the Welsh Government, two types of provision exist sideby- side. Parents/pupils opt either for the mainly Welsh-medium or mainly English-medium provision.
Under the Council’s proposals, Llangennech’s existing schools would amalgamate into a single 3-11 Welsh- Medium School.
The former is in accordance with the creation of single 3-11 schools in localities where two schools exist and where a single head teacher is in charge of both schools. In Welsh-Medium education (WME), Welsh is the main teaching medium at Key Stage 2, with at least 70% of the teaching through the medium of Welsh.
English is introduced formally as a subject at Key Stage 2 and is taught through the medium of English, and English may occasionally be used for some aspects of some subjects.
Some people in Llangennech are vehemently opposed to the proposals.
Following the meeting, spokesperson for the parents Michaela Beddows told the Herald: “They didn’t really answer our questions until Councillor Jeff Edmunds said he wasn’t happy the vote went ahead until the questions were answered. Two other councillors said they were not happy either.
“The three councillors abstained from voting. Director of Education Rob Sully briefly answered the questions. He said that special needs children won’t be affected by the change. They put the vote forward and it was carried. It is going to the Executive Board, possibly in June.”
However, an alternative view was put by another attendee at the same meeting.
“The rules (on asking questions) are pretty inflexible, as you know, but the objectors received better treatment than people asking questions of full council. Somehow, I doubt that they will see it that way.
“Rob Sully was on top of his brief, and the people who asked questions were told that they would receive full written responses to their questions, some of which contained a lot of detail.
Asked about what the group intended to do now that the proposal had moved forward Michaela Beddows said: “We will now have the opportunity to put in more proformas. Whatever argument we have put forward they are dismissing. They are not taking individual children into account.
“What Rob Sully said was that no child is going to be turned away from the school and that every child can go to the school. There is no consideration given to any English speaking child whatsoever.”
SURPLUS PLACES CLAIMED
The group, who say they are not opposed to children learning Welsh claim that surplus capacity exists at other Welsh Medium Schools and that such a surplus means that the Council’s proposals are not aligned with the Welsh Government’s School re-organisation code.
Michaela alleged: “They have built two brand new Welsh primary schools with surplus places. One in Furnace and one in Brynsierfel.
She continued: “121 children in Llangennech School are not living in the village. 96 have to go out of the village to go to school. 15 of those are attending other welsh medium schools. 81 are attending alternative English schools. They say there is a lack of people wanting English education yet 81 children have to go out of the village to get their education.”
Michaela disputes a claim by the County Council that no child seeking an English medium education has been turned away from the existing school: “We have proof that they have. One mum went to tribunal. She won her case. The school were lying about the capacity there.”
Asked whether the Llangennech County and Community Councillors were listening to families she said that they were not and that issue was councillors’ firm personal belief in the primacy of the Welsh language.
The Herald asked Michaela if the board of governors had listened to their views. She said, “The Board of Governors are not listening. We put a letter of complaint in and asked for the resignation of the chair of the board of governors Tim Davies. He believes that English and Welsh cannot be taught alongside one another.”
In a letter to the Chair of the Committee, Sioned Elin, Chair of Cymdeithas in the area said:
“Retaining separate Welsh and English streams gives parents superficially an idea of choice. However, in reality, registering pupils in the English stream will deprive them of choices later on in life.
“It is recognised by everyone in the field – including the First Minister – that the idea of “second language Welsh” has been a failure and, consequently, only the pupils in the Welsh stream develop skills to work in both languages, and have real choices.
“Pupils in the English-medium stream are deprived educationally. There is a gradual process to rectify the situation through the county so that schools are on a continuum towards Welsh-medium education which ensures proficiency in both languages.”
Speaking after the meeting, Sioned Elin said: “It is the Council’s intention for more schools to offer more Welsh medium education, so Llangennech School could lead the way.
“It was a scrutiny committee that met today, their decision will go before the Executive Committee who will have the final say, but we are hopeful that they will come to the same conclusion; and that the followup process gets under-way as soon as possible.”
Others’ views were less stridently expressed: “A couple of the questioners were a bit aggressive in tone, and one of them tried to challenge Councillor Gwyn Hopkins’ declaration of interest. Cllr Hopkins had been granted permission to speak and vote, and one parent said he thought this was against the rules. There was clearly no love lost and Gwyn Hopkins looked pretty upset.
“After that initial excitement, things quietened down, Cllr Eirwyn Williams thanked them repeatedly for taking time to come, and carefully avoided confrontation while keeping firm control.”
However, criticism was levelled at the way the statutory code – set by the Welsh Government – operates: “What is unfair to everyone concerned – children, parents, staff and governors – is the bonkers process which has to be followed. If someone wanted to create a process which prolongs agony and ensures that permanent scars are left, this would be it.”
Further criticism was levelled at Labour’s apparently cynical approach to the issue: “Labour’s antics were also deplorable. Two of their three members did not show up, apparently having dropped out at the last minute. So they used their reserves, including Jeff Edmunds.
“Despite having voted unanimously for the policy when they were running the council, they were squeaking that they had reservations about applying it in the case of individual schools. So they abstained, presumably hoping to make political capital out of the issue. There’s leadership for you.”
That last point touches upon one salient factor that some Labour councillors are very keen to play down. The plan for Welsh Medium Education in Carmarthenshire – and the Welsh Language Education Policy nationally – are both creations of the Labour Party.
The position of some of the more opportunistic Labour representatives locally seems to be to stir up opposition to policies pursued by the current administration, which the former Labour administration put in place.
Police appeal following assault in Llys Glan Y Mor
POLICE in Llanelli are investigating an assault which occurred in the vicinity of St Davids Close and Llys Glan Y Mor, Llanelli sometime between 9.00pm on Saturday 10th April and 1.30am on Sunday 11th April 2021.
A 45-year-old male was taken to hospital with facial injuries.
Officers have carried out all possible lines of enquiry, and are now appealing for help from the public.
They would like to identify the people in the CCTV image, who may have information that could help the investigation.
Anyone who knows who the people are, or if you believe you are pictured, contact Dyfed-Powys Police either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing email@example.com, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference DPP/0006/11/04/2021/01/C.
Police trace burglar who left trail of oil leading to his home
A MAN was charged with burglary after leaving a trail of oil from a stolen generator leading police from a victim’s home to his own.
Dyfed-Powys Police officers were able to quickly trace Dominic William Oliver after he went on an overnight burglary spree in Burry Port in March.
The force received reports of two garage burglaries and a theft from a car overnight on Monday, March 8, with a generator, fishing rods, and two bags containing passports among the stolen items.
The combined value of the items taken was estimated to be around £800.
Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “An officer attended the victims’ homes, and was made aware of a trail of oil, which was believed to have come from the stolen generator.
“She followed it along several streets – one of which was where Oliver had stolen two bags from a car – and discovered that it ended outside a property on Dandorlan Road.
“Oliver agreed to a voluntary search being carried out, and as officers entered the property they immediately noticed a rucksack with a distinctive pattern that had been described by one of the victims.”
The search was completed, with further items suspected to have been stolen recovered from the address, and the 31-year-old was arrested on suspicion of burglary within six hours of the incidents being reported.
While being conveyed to police custody, Oliver made a significant comment linking him to the theft of the generator.
He was charged with two counts of burglary and one theft, and appeared at Swansea Crown Court for sentencing on Friday, April 30.
He was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 18 months, must complete a rehabilitation requirement, and must remain at his home address between 8pm and 6am for three months.
Sgt Davies said: “This was an excellent response, which resulted in the swift arrest and charge of Oliver, and the recovery and return of stolen property to the victims the same day the offences were reported to us.
“This has no doubt had a positive impact on the residents of Burry Port, who have commented positively on how the matter was investigated.
“Community engagement, patrols and a crime prevention leaflet drop was carried out following the investigation to offer reassurance and advice.”
Further coronavirus restriction relaxations brought forward
FURTHER changes to the coronavirus restrictions have been announced by the First Minister Mark Drakeford today.
The Welsh Government has confirmed further relaxations will be brought forward from 17 May to 3 May – including the resumption of indoor supervised activities for children, indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults, such as exercise classes, and the re-opening of community centres.
This means Wales will have completed the move to Alert Level 3 by Monday 3 May.
From Saturday 24 April, the rule of 6 will allow for up to six people from six households to meet outdoors, not including children under 11 years of age or carers from those households.
The Welsh Government has also confirmed the relaxations that will take place on Monday 26 April. Outdoor attractions, including outdoor swimming pools, funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen, while outdoor hospitality can also resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants.
Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people will be able to take place and weddings receptions can begin again outdoors for up to 30 people.
Wales has the lowest coronavirus rates of the UK nations. The successful vaccine programme continues with a higher proportion of people vaccinated in Wales than other nations of the UK for both first and second doses.
Changes from Monday 3 May:
- Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities being able to reopen;
- People will also again be able to form extended households with one other household.
Relaxations planned for 17 May will be brought forward to the 3 May, including:
- The resumption of indoor supervised activities for children;
- Indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults (such as exercise classes and swimming lessons);
- And the re-opening of community centres.
The First Minister said:
“The sacrifices we have made continue to show results. By us all working together and sticking to the rules, combined with our vaccination programme, mean we continue to make progress. Rates of the virus continue to fall and the public health situation is improving.
“Due to these efforts we are able confirm more easing of the restrictions from 26 April and for early May we are again able to bring forward some of our plans. However, this progress is dependent on all of us continuing to work together to keep Wales safe.
“At the last three-week review, I set out a forward-look of how the restrictions could continue to be lifted in the weeks ahead, if the public health situation remains stable.
“It will be for the incoming Welsh Government to confirm these arrangements at the next three-week review, which will be held on May 13 – a week after the election. It is my assessment that the hospitality sector – bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes – will be able to open indoors from May 17, together with all other tourist accommodation, indoor entertainment and attractions.”
Further possible easements are subject to the public health situation remaining favourable.