THE lack of a public meeting to discuss proposals to change the language category of a Montgomeryshire school has been criticised.

On Wednesday, May 12, proposals to change Ysgol Bro Hyddgen, Machynlleth’s all through school, from a dual-stream to a Welsh-medium school, will be discussed at a Powys County Council learning and skills scrutiny committee meeting.

Comments from the meeting will be included in the report that will go in front of the council's cabinet next week.

A consultation between December and January received 440 responses, of which 61 per cent were in favour and 37.5 per cent against.

The remaining 1.3 per cent didn’t know.

The report also contains comments from people who believe that the consultation should not have taken place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that the council "relied too much on social media" to spread the message about the plans.

One said: “I am disappointed that this consultation has been brought at a time of such unprecedented stress for both adults and children. ”

Another added: “Many in the community feel aggrieved that there has been no opportunity for a public meeting or any opportunity to discuss this proposal with Powys Council.

“How can you fully gather the information needed when face to face meetings can not be held?

“You are relying on social media, not everyone is on social media.

“You are missing out on the whole community’s feedback.”

The council said the consultation was carried out in accordance with the requirements of the School Organisation Code, which does not require public meetings to take place.

The council also pointed to a point in the code which reads: "There is no requirement for proposers to hold consultation meetings although there will be circumstances where proposers will consider that meeting with certain groups of consultees will assist greatly in the dissemination of information and provide a suitable platform for the consultees to make their views known."

PCC added that it held online meetings with staff, governors and pupils at Ysgol Bro Hyddgen.

PCC said in the report: “It is not true that the council is relying on social media in order to gather responses to the consultation.

“As required by the School Organisation Code, information about the consultation was distributed to a wide range of stakeholders, including parents, staff and governors at Ysgol Bro Hyddgen, parents of pupils attending feeder schools, early years providers and community councils.”

If the decision is approved by the cabinet, the proposed change would be introduced on a phased basis, year-by-year, starting with the school’s Reception class in September 2022.

Machynlleth and the surrounding Dyfi Valley is a strong Welsh speaking area, and figures show that out of a total of 477 pupils at Bro Hyddgen, 332 are educated in Welsh and 145 in English.

Improving the provision of Welsh language education in the county was one of the recommendations of Estyn after their critical inspection of the education service in 2019.