For the fourth year in succession there have been issues with admissions to Welsh-medium primary education, with some parents being refused both their first and second choices.
Some of the issues are not unique to Welsh-medium schools, but any problems parents face are exacerbated by the distances involved between the schools. So for example some parents have been unable to access either of their two nearest schools at Ysgol Bro Alun or Ysgol Plas Coch, which are both full, and have only been offered their third choice in Coedpoeth.
Applications are assessed largely on proximity to the school, which effectively means refusal for anyone living more than about a mile away and takes no account of whether the child attended reception or nursery, or whether siblings already attend the school. There are cases of parents having to send children to 2 or even 3 separate schools with all the additional pressure that entails in terms of getting both children to school on time and picking up in the afternoon.
To deal with the immediate issues Plaid Cymru county councillors are working with RhAG (Rhieni Dros Addysg Gymraeg – Parents for Welsh Education) in appealing against decisions, and pressing Wrexham Council to find a short-term solution for the children involved. But with numbers attending welsh medium education at an all-time high, and with demand in the area continuing to grow, we will continue to press Wrexham Council to properly assess demand in the area, and get ahead of the game with its provision, rather than having to constantly play catch -up.
Demand continues to grow and we know the locations of schools mean that people, for example, in the Brymbo, Gresford and Rossett areas are unlikely to even try to get their children to a Welsh-medium primary school because of local priority. So there is unmet demand that the council needs to plan for as it develops new schools.
Over the past 20 years we’ve seen new schools open at Plas Coch and Bro Alyn. In three years a new school is expected to open at Borras. In each case we’re told it will meet demand but that has been proved not to be the case. When parents have the option of giving their child a bilingual education on their doorstep, then they are taking it.
The Plaid Cymru group will be meeting the Director of Education and lead member on Friday to discuss these matters further.