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Pontypridd parents hold protest to fight for local Welsh language education

Mar 20, 2019

Parents and supporters of Ysgol Gymraeg Pont Siôn Norton will be holding a peaceful protest outside the Council building in Clydach as RCT Cabinet members discuss proposals to reorganise school provision in the Pontypridd area.

Tomorrow morning, Thursday 21 March, at 9.30am, parents and supporters of Ysgol Gymraeg Pont Siôn Norton will be holding a peaceful protest outside the Council building in Clydach as RCT Cabinet members discuss proposals to reorganise school provision in the Pontypridd area.

The current proposal is to close Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Pont Siôn Norton and Ysgol Heol-y-Celyn and build a brand new school on the existing Heol-y-Celyn site.

The campaigners are concerned that this could lead to a significant decline in the Welsh language in the communities of north Pontypridd.

Angela Gerrard - a parent and member of the Fighting for Local Welsh Medium Education campaign group, who will be at the protest tomorrow, said,

"With the proposed plans in their formative stages, we urge the Cabinet and Council to seriously consider the knock-on effects of this proposal and to consider other options. A new building for Ysgol Pont Siôn Norton is essential, which in its current form is not suitable as a 21st Century school, but the proposal to move the school out of north Pontypridd - which will create a journey of up to 6 miles for Ynysybwl, Glyncoch, and Coedycwm areas - is far from ideal, and will involve long bus journeys.

"It is very important that children receive Welsh medium education in the community in which they live. Families who do not have access to cars have expressed concerns about how they will arrive at breakfast clubs and after-school clubs. Some parents openly say that they are so concerned about the situation, that they will be unable to choose Welsh medium education for practical reasons. This will create additional barriers for parents as they decide whether or not to choose Welsh medium education in the first place.

Requests made under the Freedom of Information Act have confirmed that RCT Council has not considered any other potential sites. The Campaign urges the Council to explore Tŷ Gwyn former school site as a location for a Welsh medium school for the pupils of Ynysybwl, Coed y Cwm and Glyncoch communities. They also suggest that the existing YGG Pont Sion Norton site should be adapted to reach 21st Century school standards, including a new building such as the work undertaken at Trerobart School. This would mean keeping Ysgol Pont Siôn Norton as a new-look Welsh medium school for pupils from Cilfynydd, y Comin and Trallwn. Plans for Heol-y-Celyn should proceed so that they can be embraced by the local community.

Angela Gerrard added,

"We feel that the current plans cannot be allowed to go ahead without the Council clearly demonstrating that they have given serious and meaningful consideration to other sites that would allow children to receive Welsh medium education within their local communities, as outlined in the Welsh Government's Welsh medium Education Strategy (2010)."

Una Hilder, originally from Hampshire but who moved to Cilfynydd 8 years ago and now lives with her husband and daughter who attends the Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Pont Sion Norton Nursery Class, is also very concerned about the possible impact on her family.

"There are no Welsh speakers in the family. It was a difficult decision to choose Welsh medium education but we chose it because we wanted our daughter to be bilingual. And that she could have a better understanding of the country where she was born.

"I started learning Welsh to be able to support her with her education and we are using the language increasingly in our home. Unfortunately, with the changes being suggested to local schools, we now have to consider taking her out of Welsh medium education and placing her in an English medium school.

"The reason for this is that we don't have a car during the day and I don't like the thought of not being able to get to school if I need to do so urgently. And it's also more important that she goes to school in the local community where we live. So, I feel that the choice of Welsh medium education has been taken away from us.

"It really is a very sad situation and I feel very emotional about it. Hearing our daughter speaking Welsh so well after just 6 months at school is great - it's definitely better than my Welsh, and often she corrects me! I am a very proud mother!

"So far, our experience of Welsh medium education has been very positive, and we still hope that we will be able to use the Welsh language in our lives."