A NEW Welsh-medium school will open in Cardiff next year.
Cardiff councillors yesterday accepted plans for a £2 million primary school to be built behind Hamadryad Hospital in Butetown.
The temporary governing body of Ysgol Hamadryad will appoint the school’s first head teacher in April. The school will then open temporarily at Ninian Park school site on Virgil Street in Grangetown from September.
Though most of the demand for a Welsh-medium school came from Grangetown, it was difficult for councillors to find a space to build the school.
Cabinet Member for Education Sarah Merry, said: “These latest proposals represent investment of more than £50 million in education for a significant number of communities in the city, including the most deprived areas in Cardiff.
“Delivering better education and skills for all is one of the four stated priorities of the council. These projects have been designed to meet the projected rise for school places in these areas to ensure that we provide a standard of education the children and young people of Cardiff deserve.”
“Together, these improvement schemes will provide a significant number of extra school places for the city. The new schools will be delivered to an extremely high standard. Officers have considered the concerns raised by stakeholders and outlined the council’s plan to address them,” said Councillor Merry.
“This is a significant milestone to deliver these school improvement projects and, moving forward each of the proposed schemes would be subject to the planning.”
Currently there are 15 Welsh-medium schools in Cardiff but none in the area of Grangetown and Butetown. Many residents felt they were let down as a result of not being given the choice to send their children to a Welsh-medium school.
Huw Williams, a spokesman for the community action group Ymgyrch TAG (Trebiwt a Grangetown), said: “We have tried campaigning for the new school after opening three years ago.
“We put a lot of pressure on the council, held meetings and talked with Assembly Members. Some were more helpful than others. We even held nights to raise money so the new school could be built and the campaigning would take off.
“We wanted to raise awareness for the Butetown site and now we must look forward instead of looking backwards. We need to make sure that there are enough children in the classrooms in September so the school succeeds. Parents will find out what class their children will be in and have background information regarding the school from April onwards.”
“The most important thing is to ensure the community has the same choice as other areas, so they can have the option to attend a Welsh or an English school in both Butetown and Grangetown. There has not been a lot of opportunities in the past for parents to choose from, so yet again this is a great opportunity.”
Ninian Park Primary will take on more English-medium pupils as a result of the new Welsh-medium school being built.
The council has announced there will be no disruption to residential parking and a planning application has been accepted for extra spaces to be allocated to teaching staff.
The council originally wanted to expand Ysgol Pwll Coch in Leckwith and had plans to redevelop the Channel View leisure centre site, which proved controversial.
Newport resident Elin Maher said: “As a fellow campaigner from Newport, I’m glad that this development has been given the green light after many years of uncertainty for parents in the area. At last, children from the Butetown area can look forward to a Welsh-medium primary provision in their locality.”
Sioned Mills, committee member of language playgroup Cylch Ti a Fi Grangetown, said: “The playgroup is very pleased that Ysgol Hamadryad will finally be opening. The families in the area have been calling for a new Welsh school in the community for some time.
“As the existing playgroup in the area, which is Welsh-medium, we are extremely happy that we can send children who attend the playgroup from every background the option to go to a Welsh school. A Welsh school that is also close to their homes. We are thrilled with the progress.”
Ken Barker, Charity Administrator for Grangetown, Butetown and Riverside, of Clive Street, said: “I think it’s a fantastic idea! There are not enough Welsh-medium schools in the area so I think this will be a great opportunity for parents who want their children to attend a Welsh school.
“The only problem I can see with the plans to build a new Welsh school in Butetown is that other schools in the area might lose children. But that is something that should be looked at by the council. It shouldn’t really have an impact on the new school”
Teacher Julie Anthony, 42, of Grangetown said: “The Welsh primary school is a fantastic development for the area. There are so many Welsh-speaking families in Grangetown and having a local primary will enrich the community.
“My son is already in Year Five but I would have welcomed an opportunity to send my children to a Welsh school closer to home. This school will give all parents in the area another option as bilingualism is so important.”