Sunday, 24 November 2013

A case of Prejudice at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon?

Today's Wales Onine (So probably Wales on Sunday)  has the headline 

Vulnerable autistic children  have been banned from using a school canteen because they do not speak Welsh.

The youngsters have to eat in a small two-classroom building on the site of newly-created Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon in Newport.

The article says 

Last year, when the school was the English language Brynglas Primary, the children were able to eat in the canteen.
But since the September, the unit for austistic children has been separated from the new Welsh-language school and the children in the unit receive food from the canteen delivered to their classroom.
In an email, Newport Council’s education chief James Harris said: “The pupils will be eating in the base initially as the Welsh school will be using Welsh language only and the management team and teachers at Maes Ebbw feel it will be confusing for the pupils.”

At first this looks like a disastrous  policy and hints of prejudice from the Welsh Language School.

But only a slight examination goes to show that the problem has come from the inherent policy of meeting calls for Welsh language Education by taking over an English School  or as happened in some cases having mixed "Units".

It helps no one to have mixed units whether the children have special needs or not.

What Idiot when devising this scheme in Newport decided that the needs of Autistic Children can be met by keeping them in a Welsh speaking School.

Or the fact that there was a unit there and these children would be distressed to move to another School made it unsuitable for them to move.

It looks like the authorities have turned to the Head of Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon saying how you deal with this unit is your problem.

I admit that the action of  Bro Teyrnon looks insensitive and prejudicial against these autistic children.

But it seems that the problem lies in that they are English speakers in a Welsh schol not thier autism.

But can any one really argue that these children would find it more stressful to be in an environment where the other children in the school speak another language?

This will give ammunition to the Anti-welsh Lobby as the comments on the Wales On Line page will undoubtedly show.

I think that the best thing the school can do is go back to allowing these children to share the canteen and for Newport Council to investigate whether having mixed English speaking and Welsh Units are viable.

This may be a case of Prejudice but it seems that it may be the policy of the Council that's at fault and that it has led to prejudice being used against Welsh Language Education and vulnerable children being used to justify it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glyn - I would suggest you haven't fully understood the facts of this story. Since the closure of the English medium school, the children in the ASD unit have become the responsibility of Maes Ebbw Special School. It is the head and staff of this school who have decided that, for the time being, the children from the unit should not use the canteen because the use of Welsh by the staff and children from Bro Teyrnon could be confusing/distressing for them given the nature of autism. Sounds a bit dubious to me, but unlike the staff from Maes Ebbw, I have no expertise in the ASD field. As far as I am aware, the head of Bro Teyrnon had no issue with the ASD children continuing to use the canteen alongside the Welsh medium children, so there is no question of insensitivity or prejudice on the part of Bro Teyrnon.