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More Welsh-medium provision for young pupils with autism

Plans to set up more specialist learning facilities for Welsh-speaking children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) have moved a step closer.

Having already established Welsh-medium provision at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd, as well as English-medium provision at Pencoed Primary School and Maesteg Comprehensive School, Bridgend County Borough Council wants to set up a learning resource centre for pupils with ASD at the newly opened Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Calon y Cymoedd in Bettws.

The proposed centre would enable children who have a diagnosis of ASD to remain at a Welsh-medium primary school before moving on seamlessly to their local Welsh-medium secondary school at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd.

Cabinet Members from the council have this week been hearing the positive feedback that was gathered from a formal consultation with parents, pupils, staff, the governing body of Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Calon y Cymoedd and Estyn regarding the proposal.

The next stage is to publish a statutory notice, signalling a period of 28 days in which objections to the proposal can be submitted in writing. After the public notice period ends on 27 March, a further report will be made to Cabinet Members so that they can consider any objections and make a decision based on all of the information available.

If approved, the new learning resource centre could open in September 2019, and would cater for a maximum of eight pupils.

Last year, there was overwhelming support for a Welsh-medium learning resource centre to be established at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd. Having set that up, the logical next step is to create similar provision at one of the Welsh-medium feeder schools. Due to its central location in the county borough, we feel that the new Ysgol Gyrnradd Gymraeg Calon y Cymoedd is ideally placed for this.

The outcome of the consultation was positive, and we were pleased to have the opportunity to answer the various questions that were asked about how the learning resource centre will work. Pupils noted that it was really important to support their friends who were already in the school who need this kind of support.

The new learning resource centre would be an integrated part of the mainstream school, providing an environment in which pupils can develop and thrive within their peer group and have normal access to mainstream curriculum when appropriate.

Councillor Charles Smith, the council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration

Meanwhile, following another public consultation, Cabinet Members have also agreed to publish a 28-day statutory notice regarding the council’s intention to close its nurture provision at Betws Primary School on 31 May 2019.

It is proposed that the four pupils who currently attend the nurture provision should either reintegrate back into their mainstream schools so that they can be taught as close to home as possible, or move to The Bridge Alternative Provision at the Bryncethin Campus. In the future, pupils requiring this additional support will be referred for placement at The Bridge Alternative Provision.

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