Sunday, 8 June 2008

The Fight for Rural Welsh Education



09:00 - 06 June 2008

A Carmarthenshire councillor has been compared to Mr Men character Mr Forgetful by campaigners who claim he forgot to tell voters about 17 planned school closures before being re-elected last month.The attack on executive board member for education Ieuan Jones, by Welsh language protest group Cymdeithas yr Iaith, follows the announcement that up to six more rural schools - most in the Towy and Gwendraeth valleys - have been added to the list of those which could close under the council's modernising education plan.

Council leader Meryl Gravell, meanwhile, has been awarded the title of Little Miss Bossy.

A rally will be held outside County Hall on Monday, with protesters dressed in Mr Men costumes, while inside County Hall, members of the council's executive board will discuss a document detailing consultation on the proposed closures.
Cymdeithas chairwoman Sioned Elin said: "A 17,000-word document has not suddenly appeared from nowhere.
"It was obviously available prior to the election but Mr Forgetful - Councillor Ieuan Jones - forgot to tell voters that the Independent-led coalition on Carmarthenshire Council was about to declare war this year on up to 17 more Welsh-medium village schools, after a conveniently quiet year prior to the election.
"We challenge the executive board to send this declaration of war on village schools to the full council for debate so that amendments can be made.
"Cymdeithas yr Iaith will stand with every community which wishes to fight these proposals."

The new schools announced include Maesybont, Nantygroes, Ysgol y Fro (which includes Llansaint, Idole and Llandgyndeyrn schools) Llanedi, Cwmifor and Llangain.
Ysgol Llanarthne and Llansadwrn are waiting for a formal announcement on their closures.
Rhys Davies, county councillor for the wards covering Maesybont and Nantygroes schools, said: "As a former pupil and now a governor of Ysgol Nantygroes I know how important the school is to the community. The same goes for Maesybont school. They both provide excellent education to the children in the community."
A council spokesman dismissed the Mr Men demo as a cheap publicity stunt.
He said: "All of this detail Cymdeithas is referring to has been out in the public domain previously. Monday's debate is simply an update.
"Cymdeithas has been constantly engaged in objecting to our proposals to invest in first-class Welsh medium education in the county."

Carmarthenshire Council leader Meryl Gravell said: "The county council is investing £160 million in building new schools, and upgrading nearly all other schools over the next five to seven years."

Reader comments
Could Meryl Gravell explain, if Carmarthenshire Council are "investing in first class welsh medium education in the county", then how come 25 children have been refused places at Ysgol Dewi Sant in Llanelli for this September, some of whom have siblings at the school, and 19 of whom are within the catchment area. Some of the children refused places have also only been offered places at English medium schools which is against the law. For the September 2009 intake there are already 120 names down for only 60 spaces! Yet in the document mentioned in the article, no mention is made of the previously promised replacement school for Ysgol Dewi Sant, despite the current accommodation being woefully inadequate. Welsh medium education in Llanelli has for too long been neglected by this council.
Angry parent, Llanelli

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