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Update on actions to increase Welsh Medium education in Rhondda Cynon Taf

Cabinet will receive an update on the Council’s investment and commitment to expand Welsh Medium education in Rhondda Cynon Taf, working towards the outcomes outlined in its Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP).

Members will consider a report on Thursday, January 28, outlining actions taken towards the WESP – which provides strategic direction to plan and deliver Welsh Medium education and an overview of the actions delivered.  It was initially approved by Welsh Government for the period 2017-2020, but has been extended to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report outlines that Rhondda Cynon Taf has the highest percentage of statutory learners accessing their education in Welsh, in comparison to the four other Local Authorities which make up the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service. This has been the case for the past three years, and 18.8% of learners accessed their Education in the Welsh Medium sector in Rhondda Cynon Taf during 2020.

The report highlights that the majority of Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Welsh Medium primary schools have surplus places, with 28.1% surplus places being evident in this sector. Where pressures for places have been experienced, the Council has taken steps to address these or has planned programmes in place to address the capacity issues.

The Council has committed to investing £3.69m at YGG Aberdâr with support from the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme to provide a further 48 places, and formed Ysgol Garth Olwg as a 3-19 school to enable the primary school to expand into the surplus space available in the secondary sector. It is planned that Dolau Primary will expand to provide 540 places in response to local housing developments, while the capacity of Penderyn Primary will increase in September 2021 when it becomes solely a Welsh Medium school. The Council has also committed to building a new Welsh Medium primary school on the site of Heol y Celyn Primary, with a planned investment of £10.7m.

Increasing the quality and availability of early years Welsh Medium provision, co-located at primary schools, has also been a priority – with £4m invested recently. Investment includes funding for a new childcare setting at YGG Abercynon to meet community need, a dedicated Cylch Meithrin at YGG Aberdâr, and location of a building at Ysgol Llanhari to provide dedicated Flying Start and childcare services. In addition, YGG Evan James, YGG Ynyswen, YGG Dolau and YGG Llantrisant will benefit from new facilities and remodelling for additional childcare and/or Flying Start provision.

The majority of Welsh Medium secondary schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf also have places available, with 23.1% surplus spaces evident in this sector. However, action is being taken at Ysgol Rhydywaun where a growth in capacity is needed. The Council is planning a £12.13m investment, utilising funding from the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme to increase the school’s capacity from 1,040 to 1,225. This will be achieved via additional teaching accommodation and sports facilities which will be complete ahead of the 2022/23 academic year.

The report also outlines recent investment in Welsh Medium Education via the Council’s Capital Programme – including refurbishments, remodelling and new buildings. Key examples of recently-delivered projects include works at YGG Tonyrefail and YGG Llwyncelyn.

The report is available for residents to view in full on the Council’s website, included in the agenda for the Cabinet Meeting on Thursday, December 28.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “This annual WESP update demonstrates that the Council is actively contributing to improving Welsh Medium provision across the County Borough – comparing favourably within the Central South Consortium for the percentage of statutory learners accessing Welsh Medium education, and putting forward clear ambitious plans and investment in those areas where additional Welsh Medium places are required.

“The Council remains committed to contributing to Welsh Government’s Cymraeg 2050 vision, to achieve one million Welsh speakers in 30 years’ time. Locally, we are working towards this goal by ensuring the availability of Welsh Medium education provision from the early years right through to primary and secondary education.

“The Council will continue to monitor the numbers of learners attending Welsh Medium schools, and will be looking ahead to the new WESP which will be consulted upon later this year – to replace the current Plan beyond 2021. It will outline our strategic plans, actions and commitments to Welsh language education. It will also outline a number of additional proposed 21st Century Schools projects for the future, which will include brand new schools for YGG Llyn y Forwyn in Ferndale and YG Cwm Rhondda in Cymmer.”

Posted on Friday 22nd January 2021