Gwynedd Welsh-language centres
Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet has listened to concerns presented about possible affect of restricting the county’s Welsh-language centres, and decided to operate an alternative staffing model in one centre only as a pilot and to amend the terms of employment of the centre’s teachers rather than cutting jobs.
This follows comments presented by staff and the unions during the recent consultation, along with the main messages from the Language Committee, the Education and Economy Scrutiny Committee, and the full Council.
During the Cabinet discussion, the Council's commitment to maintaining the network of language centres was underlined, but that there was no choice but to consider options for the future due to cuts in the grant funding received from the government to run the service.
Members noted that comments had been submitted regarding the possible affect of restructuring on the quality of the provision, along with concerns about increasing the teacher : pupil ratio in the centres. The decision taken will be to pilot an alternative staffing model in one centre and to monitor whether there is any impact on the quality of education and pupil attainment, as well as adapting the teachers' terms of employment in the centres.
Councillor Gareth Thomas, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member said:
“As a Council, our innovative education policy and the commitment of our schools and language centres to empower Gwynedd's young people to live their lives through the Welsh language is consistently celebrated as an example of best practice nationally.
“We are confident that the decision we have taken as a Cabinet ensures that Gwynedd will continue to lead the way in this vital area in future.
“As is evident to everyone, Council services have had to face a decade and more of funding cuts. Throughout this unprecedented period of austerity, we have been able to protect the budget of our language centres whilst having to reduce spending on other education services that is funded through the national grant along with every other service area across the Council.
“With government grant funding reducing and staffing costs increasing, there is no choice but to consider new ways of running the language centres in a period when budgets are shrinking.
“Whilst Council education officers are of the professional opinion that a model of one teacher and assistant at every centre would maintain the quality of education provided, what we have agreed as a way forward shows our willingness to listen.
“Comments were presented about the possible affect on the quality of the provision and concerns regarding teacher : pupil ratios – what has been agreed as the way forward will allow us to maintain the current model in four out of the five centres whilst assessing an alternative arrangement in one Centre.
“To do this, we have agreed to earmark bridging funding for the period of the pilot.”