Gwynedd Council’s cabinet will today consider a recommendation to submit a final application to the Welsh Government for £2.9 million of grant money to strengthen Welsh language education in the county.

If successful, the application will enable Gwynedd Council to:

  • Invest more than £1.1million to increase the capacity of Gwynedd Language Centres;
  • Invest more than £1.5million of capital money and £300,000 of revenue money to increase the capacity of Ysgol Llanllechid, Ysgol Bro Lleu and Ysgol Chwilog, to support three communities of linguistic significance to flourish, that is communities with over 70% Welsh speakers.

The council’s education cabinet member, Cllr Beca Brown, said: “Over the decades Gwynedd has led the way nationally in terms of supporting and promoting Welsh language education. We have a firm vision to give every pupil educated in the county – from Aberdaron to Abergwyngregyn to Aberdyfi – the opportunity to leave school as fluent and confident Welsh-speaking citizens.

“According to the 2011 census data, 92.3 per cent of Gwynedd pupils between the ages of 5-15 in our schools were Welsh speakers – the highest percentage in Wales by a stretch – and this is a matter of pride for us.

“But, there is room to improve, to innovate more and to be even more ambitious for our young people and our language.

“The intention of our exciting package of measures is to break new ground in the support we provide to immerse all pupils who move to Gwynedd in the Welsh language and to strengthen the language in three schools within our Welsh strongholds.”

As part of the new vision for the Gwynedd Immersion Education System, the work of establishing two completely new immersion education sites in Tywyn and Bangor has begun along with work to improve the resources at the Porthmadog immersion education site. These sites will provide immersion education for learners in years 5-9 in a first-class learning environment.

This latest investment enables us to develop the three sites that provide immersion education for years 2-4 through:

  • Investing and extending the current provision of the Maesincla Language Center in Caernarfon;
  • Improve the resources and increase the capacity in Meirionnydd by moving the Dolgellau Language Centre to Ysgol Bro Idris;
  • Improve the provision and resources in the Dwyfor area by moving the Llangybi Language Centre to Ysgol Cymerau, Pwllheli.

Via this application, we will also increase the capacity of three primary schools in response to the growth in the population due to housing developments in their catchment areas. Doing this will create a solid infrastructure for these communities, creating the very best conditions for the Welsh language and the prosperity of the communities. The schools in question are Ysgol Llanllechid, Ysgol Bro Lleu and Ysgol Chwilog.

Cllr Brown added: “As a child of non-Welsh speaking parents who moved to Gwynedd, I consider myself extremely lucky that my mother and father have settled in a county which ensures that all pupils – whatever their background – can play a full part in our local society. It is true to say that it would be unlikely that we would have been so lucky if they had moved to another part of Wales.

“My priority as a cabinet member is to ensure that every child in Gwynedd receives the same opportunities that I had and, wherever possible, that we invest to introduce further improvements.

“These exciting plans break new ground in terms of Welsh language education in Gwynedd, and literally so in Bangor and Tywyn.

“I will therefore strongly recommend that the Cabinet supports the recommendation to proceed with these proposals and that a request for £2.9million of financial support is submitted to the Welsh Government so that we can realise our vision.”