Serious concerns that a starter class for Grangetown and Butetown will not open as promised this September is an indication of wider failures by Cardiff Council in the planning of Welsh-medium education provision across the city.
This is RhAG’s response to concerns of local parents that the Council will not keep their promise to open the starter class hosted at Ninian Park School, as a seedling of the new school which is proposed to open on a permanent site in 2017.
On the basis of Council figures for July, RhAG is aware that 105 pupils were refused first choice applications for a place in the city’s Welsh-medium primary schools. It is unclear how many children have been lost to the English-medium sector, nor how many are still in the appeals system. This represents a loss of 13% of all applications for the Welsh-medium September 2015 Reception intake. The loss for September 2014 was approximately 5%.
Said Michael Jones for Cardiff RhAG, “Warning bells should now be ringing as many problems can be found throughout the city. In the East, between Bro Eirwg and Penypil 13 children have been unable to obtain a place without another nearby school a practical possibility. Glan Morfa has been turning pupils away for 3 years and more, and the same situation has arisen this year with 5 applications refused. In the North, the situation at Mynydd Bychan (19 refused) is unacceptable and the Wern, at 75 applications cannot meet the demand with 3 pupils not being offered a place. The applications for Melin Gruffydd is 7 over their Standard Admission Number and Pence at 21 applications over their SAN. In the West, there is an urgent need to do something for Nant Caerau and Treganna is packed with 16 applications above their statutory number.
“We need immediate action by extending the current provision as an interim solution and to open new schools to meet the demand. Honoring the commitment to open a starter class to serve Grangetown and Butetown is an indispensable part of the Council’s plans to develop Welsh-medium education in the city, as has been incorporated into Cardiff Council’s statutory Welsh in Education Strategic Plan, which has been approved by the Minister of Education. Although the council had announced their intention to proceed with the class, the fact that parents were not made known of this until May and arrangements not confirmed until August, meant it was all far too late; so the current crisis is the result of a lack of acting early enough which has weakened parents’ trust and confidence. The current administration needs to restore this by taking control of the situation and providing firm and proactive action as a matter of urgency.
“In addition, we call on the Council to conduct an urgent city-wide review of the catchment areas for Welsh medium schools and a thorough review of the school admissions process in order to provide greater fairness, clarity and certainty for parents in applying for places in Welsh-medium schools.”