AS THE new school term progresses, changes to education in Welshpool are settling down.
The new Welsh language stream school, Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng, has opened at the former Ysgol Ardwyn Infants school site and 76 pupil aged four years to 11 are being taught there.
On top of that, 30 youngsters attend the “Cylch Meithrin” – pre school setting.
The hope is that using the Welsh language in all aspects of school life will see the language used more widely in the community.
With the Welsh Government looking to build up the Welsh language, up to one million speakers by the year 2050, creating more communities and opportunities to use the language as part of daily life is essential. One avenue in this drive is through education.
The County Times spoke to headteacher, Bethan Bleddyn, about the challenges facing the school.
Mrs Bleddyn who is originally from Glantwymyn, near Machynlleth, said: “The first week or so has gone fantastically well.
“Everyone is looking smart in their new uniforms and our new logo looks good.
“The new logo we have with Powis Castle as a backdrop and daffodils, was brought together by Jane Howells who is on the temporary governing body.
“These were popular designs that came from the work of pupils at both Ardwyn and Maesydre Schools who were coming here.”
For decades Ardwyn was an Infants school – but now it also has pupils aged from seven to 11 years in the building.
Mrs Bleddyn continued: “This used to be an infant school and we are now in the process of getting all the pupils to mix together.
“The majority of the pupils come from English speaking homes and the parents have decided to send their children here for Welsh medium education.
“The challenge we face is to immerse them daily in the Welsh language and culture so that they do use it, outside of school.
“They all understand and speak Welsh but they have not been used to using it outside school.
“We have the children being taught in Welsh from a very early age.
“So, we have the system in place and now we need to give the children the confidence to use the language as part of daily life, not just in the school.”
The new school motto explains the attitude that will be adopted towards Welsh in the town.
“I like the school motto we’ve adopted – “Gyda’n gilydd yn gwneud ein gorau glas” (Together we will try our very best).
“What that means is that children, staff, school governors and the community will be working together to succeed,” she said.
Mrs Bleddyn a former headteacher at both Llanbrynmair and Dyffryn Trannon, Trefeglwys, primary schools, added: “We want the community to come here as well as us going out.”
“The main thing to concentrate on in the short term is that the children are happy, that they are settled, that the young and older age groups mix.
“I’m already seeing this happening at playtime.”
Some work has been done to spruce up the school, fitting new toilets and making it fit for use for the whole primary school age group, not just infants.
The boundary for the Wiggly Path has been settled and the last piece of the jigsaw will be to elect a new governing body for Ysgol Gymraeg y Trallwng, to replace the temporary governing body who over saw the changes.
Mrs Bleddyn, said: “It's a big change for me, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to develop Welsh language education here in Welshpool.”
See full story in the County Times