A north Powys school is to move to teaching in Welsh after councillors gave the move the green light in the face of widespread opposition.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday (October 12) councillors approved the change to Machynlleth's Ysgol Bro Hyddgen’s language category.

The proposal is that from September 2022, the reception class at Machynlleth’s Bro Hyddgen will be taught in Welsh, in a move which will eventually see all classes from reception to sixth form taught in the language.

At the meeting, Machynlleth councillor Mike Williams pointed out that 1,219 people had signed a petition against the proposal, just over 278 signed a petition in favour, and the council had received more than 252 other objections with four supporting the proposal.

Cllr Williams also said that Machynlleth town council had also objected to the language category change.

County Times: Mike WilliamsMike Williams

Cllr Williams said: “Over 1,200 people signed a petition against the proposal, that’s 66 per cent of the adult population of the town.

“I would urge cabinet to take full cognizance of the volume of objectors and those for, as it’s crucial that the views of the Machynlleth townspeople are taken on board.

“This is a very big issue for the town and the Dyfi Valley.”

Cllr Elwyn Vaughan who represents nearby Glantwymyn and is chairman of the school governors said: “Whenever any changes are proposed it is inevitable that some are opposed to such changes, fear of the unknown is understandable.

“Bilingualism is the norm in the world – monolingualism is not – and that is what an English stream is – fluency in one language.

“Bilingualism provides the basis to learn other languages and become truly multilingual – a important asset for the future.

“Only three pupils have started in the English stream this September – that is totally unsustainable and not fair on them.”

He added that he will “extend” the hand of friendship and would be available to “discuss, advise, encourage and assist wherever possible”.

County Times: Elwyn Vaughan.Elwyn Vaughan.

Education portfolio holder, Cllr Phyl Davies told cabinet that he’d been to Machynlleth to receive a petition and understood “it’s very difficult locally”.

Cllr Davies said: “The issue is that there aren’t the numbers in that (English) stream.”

He added that the cabinet had to be “consistent” in its approach to school reorganisation and that all the objections had been responded to in the officers report.

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies said “It’s a positive move and the more opportunities for our children to be truly bilingual so much the better.

“This will be phased in over a number of years.

“It will be almost the end of the decade before it impacts the secondary phase.”

Cllr Davies pointed out that feeder primary schools for Bro Hyddgen: Glantwymyn, Carno, Llanbrynmair and also Pennal and Corris in Gwynedd where some pupils come from, are all Welsh medium schools.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the proposal.