The current row over Carwyn Jones’ rejection (Why him and not the Education Minister?) of Cardiff Council’s plan to shut an English-medium (EM) primary and replace it with a Welsh-medium (WM) one in Canton is an unfortunate echo’s of the past.
When Welsh-medium education expanded under the old Labour Party, dominated council. There was often opposition from the Anti-welsh elements within the Labour group but also genuine opposition from parents as they saw their English-medium schools transferred to Welsh-medium.
The WM schools often took over old Victorian buildings however, and a large percentage the children would (still are) be bussed to the school. Nevertheless this has shown time and time again the commitment that the Parents (most of whom came from monoglot English speaking homes) had to WM education. However where I live we have had a purpose built WM school (Castellau) and the old Rydyfelin Comprehensive has moved to brand new campus.
So what’s the problem in Cardiff?
Partly it is due to an anti Welsh element that still exist; But mostly it the political opportunism that all parties portray when it comes to school policy.
When Plaid in Gwynedd put forward plans to reorganise schools it cost them control of the council.
But then Plaid will oppose plans for closing School in other counties and all the other parties are just as hypocritical. Trying to reform (which means closing some schools) in power and supporting parental campaigns against them when in opposition.
So what do we do?
We need an all party convention of MP’s. AM’s and councillors to hammer a long term strategy on school buildings in Wales.
This should include plans to increase WM education through out Wales and should not rule out the ambition to make all schools Bilingual throughout Wales in 25 years. Or even trilingual if they can do this in the Netherlands we can do it here.
It time we took the Welsh language out of politics, and it is in our schools policy we must start.