A PUBLIC MEETING HAS BEEN SET FOR: MARCH 9TH AT THE CASTLE HOTEL IN LLANDOVERY, TIME: 7.30 PM
PLEASE, PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD AS IT WILL BE VITAL THAT AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE COME TO ATTEND AND SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR OUR GROUP AND OF COURSE FOR OUR SECONDARY SCHOOL.
Parents/business people and members of public try to attend in order to have your voices heard and to find out the exact situation is for your school at present.
Jeanette Jones is organising the posters, so keep an eye out for them as well and if anybody can assist her in putting them out and around our areas, please contact her.
Letter to South Wales Guardian and Carmarthen Journal - Jan 11 2010
I am writing to you as Secretary of the above mentioned Action Group, in the hope you might be willing to print the following in the South Wales Guardian. The Action Group is still very “alive & kicking” and although we had to postpone our Public Meeting for 11th January 2010 due to unforeseen circumstances, we still represent well over 2,575 people in and around Llandovery. A lot has been happening with regard to Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn and we – the Action Group – have tried enormously hard to keep it’s members, the parents, pupils, teachers and members of the public up-to-date with any developments.
Now that Mr. H. Pugh has left the school as Head Teacher, we are entering the stage where Mrs. Griffiths – Head of Tregib School – is taking over the leadership of Pantycelyn. We wish her all the very best and look forward to working together with her.
Nevertheless, we are still in a position of uncertainty and mainly about the big question of “do we really need a new school?” On Wednesday 6th January 2010, we read in the Carmarthen Journal the letter of Eifion Evans – Director of Education and Community Services of Ceredigion Council where he highlights the actual plans that are under consideration for both Llandysul and Tregaron secondary schools. They are actually going to buildtwo new schools providing education for pupils aged three to 19.
Carmarthenshire County Council apparently does own a lot of land in and around Llandovery/Cilycwm area, the planning regulations for Llandovery are going to be relaxed in 2010, so why can we not have a similar approach to Ceredigion Council – to extend the existing building of Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn or if that is not possible, build a complete new school for Pantycelyn in Llandovery and a separate new school for Tregib in Llandeilo?
The parents and pupils of Llandovery and the surrounding area have now experienced first hand what chaos the weather conditions of late have caused. Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn has been closed since the start of the New Year and what would happen if a new super school for both towns was further away?
Perhaps it would be possible for local County Councils to work together not only with regard to salt/grid resources, but also to start looking, listening and working together with regard to better education, better funding solutions and pulling together all departments in order to serve our country in the best way possible.
Mrs. Marianne Goddard-Peperzak
Secretary of Ysgol Pantycelyn Action Group
“Hafod Bridge House”,
Carms. SA19 8BG
Ysgol Pantycelyn Action Group Bulletin
Ysgol Pantycelyn Action Group may have held its last meeting for a while, but that depends on you.
We have worked hard over the last few months.Many letters have been written both to Carmarthen County Council, and Jane Hutt, Minister for Education at the Welsh Assembly.We have had meetings, read minutes, and investigated, as far as possible and with limited resources, a workable alternative to losing Ysgol Pantycelyn. We have presented our view to every influential person we can think of, at every opportunity.We have gathered a great deal of information.
Now we are coming up to the third round of the tri-level consultation, where objection can still be raised.This is important, because even if one person objects, it may delay the ‘installation’ of the chosen option for a year.
We have been very concerned for the quality of education of Pantycelyn pupils in the 3 -4 year interim period before the favoured option is in place, and are reassured that there is new management at the school, and there will be no more teacher redundancies.The response from the Llandovery and surrounding area community has been overwhelmingly to retain 2B education for pupils.This means they will continue to have the choice between continuing their secondary education either in English or Welsh.We support this development wholeheartedly.We understand that the choice of a new school, which was supported by the governors of Ysgol Pantycelyn, is not the best development for Llandovery, but we also will not with-hold our support of that as we understand it will also retain 11-19 education in one school, which we also whole-heartedly support.
If the new build school is inevitable, the plans afoot so far, are the best we could hope for in the area of our children’s education. Althoughthe remit given to Carmarthenshire CC and the governors of Pantycelyn, by the WAG, specifically excluded consideration of impact on the community, and we hope we have helped to balance out this situation by keeping local views and developments in the public eye and in the attention of the authorities mentioned.
This leaves the crucial problem of where the school will be built.We are afraid that if it is too far from Llandovery, the community will lose its relevance to the school, and the school to the community.As the smaller town, Llandovery could easily become overlooked, as its students become absorbed into another school community almost half as large as the town population.
Our second area of concern is the possibility of the budget for the new school being pulled, because of an increasing recession.We all hope this will not happen, but it is a remote possibility.For this reason we hope to keep alive the idea of the school becoming part of a federated group with Tre-Gib and Llandovery College.Again, and idea not encouraged, but a lot cheaper!!
Both of these possibilities would be made a lot stronger by the town showing more direct support for the school.Carmarthenshire County Council will not take notice of small group of agitators.It is crucial that the whole town show its continuing and overwhelming support for the school and its activities during the next few years.Further help in the immediate future could also be givenin three ways.
One is to keep your children in Pantycelyn School, and we feel there is no longer a need to send them elsewhere.
Two is to join and be active in the ‘Friends of Pantycelyn Group’ which at this time of confusion, is under scribed.(Contact details Ysgol Gyfun Pantycelyn 01550 720395)
Three is to attend a public meeting held by the Ysgol Pantycelyn Action Group at the Castle Hotel, on January 11th, 2010, at 7.30 p.m.We need to hear your views to decide if we should carry on.Underline the date in your diary.Refreshments will be provided.We look forward to seeing you.
13th Oct 2009 - Rhodri Glyn Thomas fighting for Llandovery
Dear Marianne Goddard-Peperzak
Thank you for your e-mail. I am fully aware of the difficult situation the school finds itself in. I have met with the head and the governors and attended two meetings of the action group.
I have had meetings with Carmarthenshire County Council and the Minister for Education about the funding issue. Unfortunately there are no easy answers. I will continue to lobby on behalf of the school and seek transitional funding and make the case for the contribution the school makes to the town.
I have to admit that I have not been successful to date but will continue to raise these issues at every available opportunity.
9th July 2009
YSGOL PANTYCELYN ACTION COMMITTEE
THE DROVERS, 9 MARKET SQUARE, LLANDOVERY, SA20 0AB
To Mr. Brian Stephens
Parc Myrddin Richmond Terrace
Carmarthenshire SA31` 1HG9th July 09
Dear Mr. Stephens,
The YPAG have noted in the document outlining the results of the informal tri-level consultations that you recorded that the petition from Llandovery was handed in after the deadline.We may have misunderstood the consequences you infer by noting this, and would therefore ask you to clarify.Does this mean that this response was not included in the percentages subsequently quoted in that document to illustrate the strength of response to the various options?If this is the case could you explain why that is so?
If we have misunderstood this, please confirm that the opinions expressed through this petition are fully included throughout the document, as are all other responses and petitions.
With regard to the lateness of the petition.We were advised by our County Councillor Ivor Jackson that he should hand in the petition at the appropriate meeting, and therefore we were confident that the timing was acceptable.He certainly was not notified at the time that it was outside the deadline, and consequently we do not understand the full nature of the mistake.How much outside the deadline was it delivered?
We also question that during the informal discussions the panel agreed, at the request of Mr. Simon Goddard, that the option of retaining a 2B school at Pantycelyn would be included, but that for some reason you have failed to formalise this agreement. Could you explain why this agreement was not formalised and included?
We also note that you, yourselves, had considered, for instance, some co-operation with Llandovery College, but dismissed it, without any further investigation. On the other hand, you state that because of the strong response to the option of a 2A school at Pantycelyn, you are investigating this demand further, by consulting primary parents. Why the disparity, considering that the demand is equal, and that a 2B school would also continue to provide welsh medium education for those who want it.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Diane Fontenoy : Secretary YPAG
4th July 2009
Current situationat Pantycelyn
Pantycelyn is a small school that is not small enough to qualify for a small school allowance.The budget has been cut due to recent introduction of new systems of budgeting from the Welsh Assembly Government.
One of the most disgraceful justifications for the cut in this school’s budget we have heard from the LEA is that it is unfair to spend more per pupil per year on students in Llandovery than Llanelli.But, apparently it is fair to spend more on their transport, make some of them travel for up to an hour to and from school, split their loyalties between the community where they live and where they attend school.This mendacious attitude comes from the same school of thought that wants to tax people for having a nice view from their home, never mind other circumstances.By the same token, should Llandovery students not be compensated for having fewer amenities in their town than those in Llanelli, such as not having the same leisure facilities or general hospital on their doorstep?The list could go on.
The outcome of the tri-level consultations is not yet known so no-one knows what will happen to the school.The uncertainty is lowering moral for both students and staff.The Headmaster has the very difficult job of stretching an ever decreasing budget to keep the educational standards at the excellent level they have attained to date. As more pupils leave, the budget is cut even further.To be fair they are also struggling with the £100 per year per pupil the Wag is inexplicably holding back.
Mr. Pugh, the Headmaster has, very sensibly approached the LEA for what amounts to a ‘bridging budget’ to see the school through the period of uncertainty and budget cuts, until the chosen option is put in place.He has been turned down flat.This is highly irresponsible.This means that student staying at the school during this interim period will not receive the funding they deserve.Is this a deliberate ploy on the part of the Local Education Authority, or just incredibly bad management?We will try to find out.We are supporting Mr. Pugh in his attempts to alleviate this sorry mess.If you are concerned, write individually to Mr. Vernon Morgan, Director of Education, Carmarthenshire County Council, County Hall, Carmarthen SA31 1JP, and demand that your child’s education is properly funded throughout these changes.
One of the criticisms we have of the consultation procedure, is that apart from the lack of answers to many question, the different options on the table, meant that none of them could be explored thoroughly enough for anyone to make a truly informed choice.The consultation process has been asking ‘stakeholders’ to make blind choices.We can choose a new build school between here and Llandeilo, with the understanding that it will be built in Llangadog, but as with other options, we cannot know exactly what we are choosing, and therefore the repercussions.
We have some difficulty also with the process adopted by the WAG of dangling the carrot of a new school in front of different authorities and asking them to more or less fight for it, thus creating the flawed and rushed consultation procedure that we have experienced.We have discovered this week that planning permission has been obtained for building for educational purposes, near to Llandeilo.It cannot help fuel the feeling that many have, that despite the consultation process, the LEA has known all along what it intended to do, although we are assured otherwise.
The buildings of Ysgol Pantycelyn are generally in very good repair.Besides having excellent facilities in all areas of the curriculum, the school has a purpose built Sixth Form suite,a fully equipped Unit for pupils with Special Needs, a dedicated Computer Room with a full complement of machines for whole class instruction, together with an excellent catering unit that was installed at the cost of approximately £40,000 only three or four years ago.The school has always had outstanding result and achievements and would continue to do so if it was funded properly.Extracurricular activities also play an important part in linking the school with the community of Llandovery.
We have recently informed parents of children in the primary feeder section of our progress to date.We have consulted with Head teachers of those schools and mosthave expressed a desire to see Ysgol Pantycelyn retained as a bi-lingual 2B school, with a possibility that we might be able to follow the example of Tregaron and Llanybydder in providing education from 3 to 19 years of age.
3rd July 2009
The Welsh Assembly Government
The Welsh Assembly Government, which is a coalition of Plaid Cymru and Labour, is rolling out a new restructuring of education across Wales.We are told that plans for this have been held since the 1980’s and Peter Hain was particularly involved.The model that has been adopted comes from England, but other than that we do not know the source, although we have heard that it is widely adopted on the continent, but that is not to our own knowledge.The model restructures primary education from ages 4 to 14, moving children on at 16 to sixth form colleges.We understand this means that children will not be taught by teachers who are specialists in their subjects until they are 14 years old.This also suggests that children from 4 to 14 will be in the same school.(It has been suggested that this is also similar the American model.)
The aim of this restructuring is to cut budgets, and to create the possibility of offering the sixth formers the choice of thirty subjects, including vocational courses, such as bricklaying, plastering, Spanish, etc.Some of these are courses also traditionally run by colleges of further education, and we are not sure what role they will be relegated to in the future.We wonder if they disappear, will there be any state provided facility for mature students to change vocation, and learn new skills.We understand that the vocational courses will also include apprenticeships with outside firms! Will there be many left?
In the recent Week In, Week Out programme Professor Jenkins assessment of the reforms was that they were chaotic, and we are experiencing this in Llandovery.He also stated that the WAG receives the same budget per pupil, per year, as England, which is almost £500, but chooses to withhold £100 of that for reasons which both Rhodri Morgan, and the Assembly Education Minister, Jane Hutt, refuse to explain.This week Pantycelyn English Department received 20 A2 laminated posters advertising drama in Welsh, as a gift from the Welsh Assembly.Multiply that for schools across the country and work out the cost.Meanwhile Pantycelyn Headmaster and Governors are burdened with the impossible task of stretching an ever decreasing budget to give the pupils the education they deserve, while the farcical consultation process grinds its way to a destination many fear is already known.
The Welsh Assembly Government refuse to take any responsibility for what is happening, pointing the figure at LEA’s who distribute school funding.However it is they who are setting the amounts that they expect educators in the front line to work miracles with.
The education reform being rolled out across the U.K. is in serious danger of becoming inferior to what is already offered.The aim of it is to make children employable.While we would agree that this is a laudable aim, we feel that there is a danger of losing the ability to instil a love of learning for its own sake, which is a life affirming quality, and others with much more educational experience and qualification than ourselves, agree.
Finally, the Welsh Government has decided, to exclude from the legislation that underpins this reform, any consideration of impact on the communities involved.Scotland and England take the opposite view, and one wonders why the Welsh Government has made this decision, which is particularly relevant, and therefore incomprehensible, in Wales.We will continue to try and get answers to all these points.
30th June 2009
YSGOL PANTYCELYN ACTION COMMITTEE30 June 2009
Dear Parents and Guardians,
The Ysgol Pantycelyn Action Committee (YPAG) was formed in response to the 2575 signatories of the petition to keep Ysgol Pantycelyn as a 2B – bi-lingual school. We are concerned that the educational reforms that require school mergers are being rolled out across Wales, and are not designed for rural areas, but are an urban model, adopted from, much more urban, England.
We are, therefore, lobbying the Local Education Authority to consider maintaining Pantycelyn as a full 2B, bi-lingual school, including retaining the sixth form.They initially agreed to add this as an option to be considered, but have failed to do so, so it cannot even be researched.We are conducting our own research into the feasibility of this option, including delivering the full curriculum the educational reforms require at Pantycelyn, and are making progress.
The current situation is that the uptake of Welsh medium education is now greater than that of English in primary schools in Dinefwr, which is already the highest Welsh speaking area in Carmarthenshire.The YPAG supports Welsh medium education and members include Welsh speakers and parents with children in Welsh medium streams.
You are being asked by the Carmarthenshire County council to give your choice of medium for your child’s future education.We would ask you to consider choosing an all-inclusive 2B bilingual school to save Pantycelyn, and to maintain the academic and social success of Pantycelyn and the larger community of Llandovery.Our concerns and research are listed on www.ypag.org.ukwhere you will find comprehensive information.
We are pro-Welsh medium education, but we are also pro-choice, and against exclusivity.We do not want to see English speaking students relegated to school in another town.Unfortunately, we are all being asked to make these choices without full knowledge of how and where they might be delivered, or which ones will ultimately be available.These options were decided upon before the recession became apparent, and Wales is already 2 billion pounds in debt.
Please consider supporting the continuation of Ysgol Pantycelyn in its current form by voting for a bi-lingual 2B school, and send a message back to our governing elite that we expect their ruler-ship of Wales to reflect the unique circumstances of Wales. The population of Llandovery should also increase after 2012, when restrictive planning regulations will be altered, thus further justifying retaining our local school.So please help us encourage the decision makers to employ some ‘joined-up’ thinking.
The school is already suffering because of stringent budget cuts, which have been inflicted through new award systems.Also pupils are leaving, understandably, which further cuts the budget.This is having a detrimental effect on those who cannot leave.If you feel strongly enough about the chaos these badly planned reforms are creating you should contact both the Welsh Assembly Government and the LEA, who both blame each other for any current situation.
Thank you for time and attention, it is greatly appreciated.
Jeanette Jones, Chair, YPAG
5th June 2009
It would seem that a decision on the future of the school has been postponed. We take this as good news!
'The action committee recently had a very productive meeting with the Warden of Llandovery College Mr. Ian Hunt. It was agreed that we have firm ground on which to explore further possibilities of curriculum sharing. This would be a great step forward in keeping the whole of Pantycelyn by delivering an expanded sixth form curriculum. A further meeting is to be arranged.
Did you see the Week in Week out programme about education reform, and funding in Wales. Clearly Pantycelyn is caught up in a whirlwind of reform, that is also driven by lack of finances. Pupils in Wales receive an allocation per head per year of nearly £500 less than pupils in England, and this is decided by the Welsh Assembly Government. According to the programme both Rhodri Morgan, and the Welsh Assembly Government Education Department are refusing to answer questions on this. Some school mergers justified because of poor quality of buildings. Not so Pantycelyn, which has excellent quality buildings. Sixth formers will leave this for portakabins at Tre Gib. We will be writing to Rhodri Morgan, and the Jane Hutt at the Welsh Assembly.
In 2012, planning permission will be given for building on some hills around Llandovery. Almost no new building is allowed in town because of ridiculous 'once in a thousand year' flood risk restrictions are in place. (In England once in 100 years!) But the population in Llandovery may well increase after 2012, in which case Pantycelyn would be more than necessary. Incidentally, Tre Gib, which would have to be extended is built on a flood plain! Go figure!