Welsh language school struggling for survival eager to attract pupils from St Asaph and Bodelwyddan
A SCHOOL fighting for its survival has launched a campaign to preserve its future by attracting students from neighboring communities like St Asaph and Bodelwyddan.
Parents of Ysgol Llannefydd in Conwy say it is a ‘brilliant’ Welsh language school that offers a great comprehensive education that prepares their children well for the rest of their lives.
There is no imminent threat of closure, but there is growing concern about the decline in student numbers in recent years.
School enrollment has fallen to 11 and an automatic consultation process on its future will be triggered if the number of children drops below 10.
With few local children expected to reach school age in the next few years, parents and governors have joined forces to recruit young people from neighboring communities.
St Asaph and Bodelwyddan are particular targets because, unlike Llannefydd, they do not have primary schools that can provide education with Welsh as a first language.
Among the strengths of Ysgol Llannefydd is the high level of individual attention given to children with a pupil-teacher ratio comparable to that of private schools.
Parent Katie Farah with her sons Abyan and Ashkir. Photo: Mandy Jones
Together, the 11 students benefit from having three teachers including principal Gari Evans, a class assistant, a cook and a guard.
High school teacher Katie Farah, who is currently on maternity leave, lives in St Asaph and brings her four year old son, Abyan, to school.
Although she does not speak Welsh, she wanted Abyan to receive an education in Welsh and her little brother, Ashkir, one year old, will follow in her footsteps when he is of school age.
Katie said: âWe appreciate the school because there is an in-depth knowledge of every child and they value every child, which was especially important during the pandemic as Abyan feels safe going to school. We don’t speak Welsh at home, so one of the perks is that he learns Welsh and receives a bilingual education. It’s just priceless.
âThe students get a full and comprehensive education, and the environment is one of the best.
âI encourage all parents to come and see Ysgol Llannefydd.
“I think if they had the opportunity to connect with the staff here, online or in person, they would see the sweetness that is so evident as soon as you walk into school.”
Childminder Kate Wright, whose three children, Megan, 10, Elwen, eight, and Edryd, five, all date Ysgol Llannefydd. said: âThis is a fantastic school in a beautiful setting and we are really lucky to have it on our doorstep.
Parent Kate Wright with her children Elwen, Megan and Edryd. Photo Mandy Jones
âThe fact that it is a Welsh language school was very important to us as I had learned Welsh at school but as a second language.
âAlthough I am now working in Welsh, it took me a long time to gain this confidence.
âMy children are perfectly bilingual, they can just switch between the two languages ââand that happened during the first two years of school.
âThe advantage that they come to a small school is that they are really like a small family, so the older ones help the younger ones and it’s just a really lovely environment.
âYou see them playing outside of school and they take care of each other, and I think that’s an important quality to have wherever you go.
âThey also have a very solid education in all subjects and because it’s a small school they get more individual attention. It is definitely a bonus. These are the ratios of private education.
âIt would be really good to attract new families because it is really important to safeguard the future of this school because it is a vital asset for the community.
“There is a strong sense of community here and it would be very sad to see the school closed and lost forever.”
Gari Evans, a school principal, son of a farmer from the nearby village of Bylchau, was appointed in 2015.
Gari Evans, Director. Photo: Mandy Jones
He said: âEveryone is cooperating wonderfully and we have no behavioral issues.
âOne of the advantages of teaching at a small village school like Ysgol Llannefydd is that it is almost private education. The staff-to-student ratio is fantastic, but it is clear that there is no charge.
âThe first-class education standard combined with the enrollment ratio means that the individual needs of each learner are met.
âAlso, the facilities are great here and the information technology is on an individual basis – everyone has equipment for online learning.
âOn top of that, the picturesque location is idyllic and there is plenty of space for outdoor activities.
âUnfortunately no new houses are being built here so we have to attract more pupils from outside the village itself. We have not reached the point where the county or the Welsh government are considering closing the school, but we have to make sure that we prepare for the future and also try to attract more students from outside the region.
âBodelwyddan and St Asaph are not too far away, about six kilometers, so our school is eminently accessible. ”
Glesni Owen, Governor, said: âGovernors and the Conwy Local Education Authority want the school to remain open and viable for future generations of learners.
âHowever, if we see a further downsizing of the current enrollment, the school will be in an extremely precarious position.
âAs a community at large, we must act now not only to ensure a more secure future for our school, but also for all other community activities in which the school plays a fundamental role and to ensure a future for them as well. ”
All parents wishing to learn more about Ysgol Llannefydd should contact Principal Gari Evans either by calling the school on 01745 540228 or by sending an email to [email protected]