LEARNER TRANSPORT: PROVISION FOR WELSH MEDIUM EDUCATION AND THE DEFINITION OF CATEGORY 1 SCHOOLS IN THE COUNTY
To consider a joint report by the Head of Education and the Education Planning and Recourses Manager (copy attached) which seeks the Committee to discuss the Council’s Learner Transport policy and its application in relation to Welsh medium education.
11:10am – 12:00pm
The Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People, Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts presented the report (previously circulated). The report provided an overview of school transport requirements as they applied to Welsh language schools under the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008, which had been incorporated into Denbighshire County Council’s own Learner Transport Policy in 2018. It also provided an overview of the Welsh Language Categorisation of schools and how School Transport provision linked into education-medium provision. The report was being presented to the Committee in response to a request by members.
The Committee was informed that there was one recent and one ongoing consultations by Welsh Government (WG) that could potentially lead to changes to both the Learner Transport Policy and School Categorisation criteria in due course. Consequently, the Lead Member felt that the report was brought to the Committee prematurely. The results of the consultations and the proposed changes stemming from them would need to be assessed once the consultations were completed, as they could have substantial impact on how schools delivered education especially with regard to the Welsh Language. The consultation’s findings were expected to be published by the WG during the spring of 2021.
s, the following points were raised:
· The Chair was aware that pupils who attended Ysgol Bro Cinmerch would have to pay for transport to attend at Ysgol Glan Clwyd (dependent upon the location of their home address) or attend Ysgol Brynhyfryd, as the latter was defined as their nearest suitable school for the provision of Welsh-medium education, as 80% of its curriculum offer was available via the medium of Welsh. The Lead Member agreed to discuss the matter with the affected parents and pupils. Previously, pupils may have been able to apply for concessionary travel on school transport to attend the school of their choice, however recent changes to the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) had meant that this was no longer an option for pupils and parents
· The Committee wanted to ensure that parents and children were supported while accessing secondary education through the language medium of their choice.
household children were deemed to qualify for free school transport from their
prime household to their nearest suitable school. Officers advised that
generally their home address for education transport would be taken as the one
registered for the pupil’s Child Benefit payments. Nevertheless, this did
sometimes cause a problem and this had been highlighted to the WG as part of
the Council’s response to the recent consultation.
· The definition of Welsh-medium education which was available across Denbighshire was raised, as there was concern amongst parents who wanted their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh. Ysgol Glan Clwyd was a Category A school which was able to offer 100% of its curriculum through the medium of Welsh, whereas Ysgol Brynhyfryd was a Category B Welsh-medium school, that guaranteed to offer at least 80% of its curriculum through the medium of Welsh. This provision complied with WG definitions of both categorisations. Members were concerned that by the time pupils reached years 11, 12 and 13 there may not be sufficient resources available in Category B schools for Welsh-medium provision to be offered.
Lead Member and the Education Planning and Resources Manager informed the
committee that once the consultations had been concluded and the findings were
known further reports would be submitted to the Committee.
Resolved: - subject to the above observations to confirm that no change was currently required to the Authority’s Policy due to:
i). the Learner Transport Policy 2018 fully meeting the current statutory requirements under Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008; which had been tested legally prior to being adopted in 2018;
ii). currently changing how Category 1 & 2 Welsh Language Secondary Schools were dealt with in terms of transport would undermine the provision of Education in Denbighshire’s Category 2 Welsh Schools.
iii). the risk of making the Authority open to be challenged in regard to decisions previously made, or future decisions made if they contradicted Legislation, Policy and Guidance.
iv). the fact that the Welsh Government had recently consulted on potential future changes to The Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 in January 2021, and the outcome of that process could again change future requirements across a number of areas, including Welsh medium schools.
v). the fact that Welsh Government was currently undertaking a consultation on ‘School categories according to Welsh-medium provision’ and the outcome of that process may also change the current categorisation for all Welsh medium schools and any linked Legislation;
vi). that a letter be sent to Welsh Government emphasising the need for them to ensure that all legislation relating to education provision and Learner Transport provision dovetail to support the delivery of the widest possible choice of educational opportunities for pupils in Wales;
vii). that further reports are provided to the Committee upon the publication of the Welsh Government’s revised Learner Transport Measure and the conclusions of the Review of School Categorisation According to Welsh-medium Policy outlining the respective reviews’ implications for Denbighshire schools and pupils; and
viii). that the Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People discuss with parents of pupils attending Ysgol Bro Cinmeirch how best to meet their needs for access to secondary education provision of their choice.
- School Transport for Welsh Medium Schools Report 280121, item 6. PDF 312 KB
- School Transport for Welsh Medium Education Report 280121 - Appendix 1, item 6. PDF 796 KB
- School Transport for Welsh Medium Education Report 280121 - Appendix 2, item 6. PDF 206 KB
- School Transport for Welsh Medium Education Report 280121 - Appendix 3, item 6. PDF 340 KB