A parent whose child has been turned down for places at their catchment Welsh-medium school have criticised Cardiff council for what they claim is a lack of planning and accused them of short-changing less affluent areas of the city. They said their son and his other affected classmates, who are in year six at Ysgol Hamadryad in Butetown, are upset at the idea of being separated from friends and having been taken on transition days to Ysgol Glantaf and now not getting in.

Cardiff council confirmed that five out of 16 year six Ysgol Hamadryad children who applied for a place in Glantaf were turned down and offered places at Ysgol Gyfun Plasmawr instead. Cian Ciaran, who son is one of those who hasn’t got a place, is among those appealing the decision.

He said that six out of 17 (35%) did not get their first choice of Glantaf when they applied for secondary places in September despite living in catchment for the oversubscribed school. Data from Cardiff council shows Glantaf turned down 27 applications this year, although there are still spaces at Bro Edern and Plasmawr. Hundreds of children missed out on their preferred secondary school for September in Cardiff and you can read more about that here.

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Cian, a former member of the group Super Furry Animals, said no other secondary in the city has turned down so many children within catchment and parents were not warned it could be possible their children wouldn’t get a place. He said being turned down had affected his son’s wellbeing and he is upset at the idea of not going to the secondary he had transition days at and where most of his classmates are going. For the latest Cardiff news sign up to our newsletter here.

He claimed children from one of the most deprived in the city “are at risk of being systematically excluded, denying them equal opportunities available to children from more affluent areas”. In his letter of appeal to Cardiff council he added: “Children living closest to Ysgol Hamadryad are seemingly prioritised for exclusion from their catchment area’s high school. Glantaf is the closest Welsh-medium high school to our home and the most accessible for many families who were denied admission.”

An exterior view of Ysgol Hamadryad in Butetown
Ysgol Hamadryad in Butetown is a catchment primary for Ysgol Glan Taf

The single father, who was among campaigners for Ysgol Hamadryad to be built, accused the council of a lack of planning and of ignoring the impact on children. “This oversight has led to a deeply distressing situation for children who have participated in transition activities, including cluster school initiatives, fostering a sense of belonging and anticipation, only to be met with disappointment.”

Cardiff council said of the 17 year six pupils at Ysgol Hamadryad 16 pupils have been offered a place at one of their preferred schools – not necessarily their first choice but one of the more than one choice they were asked to male. Of those 17 they said 11 had got offers at Glantaf and five at Plasmawr.

A spokesman said: “We try to offer parents their first-choice preference but this is not always possible. By putting more than one preference parents are more likely to get a place at a school of their choice.” The council said after the first round of secondary school offers 612 places at Cardiff’s Welsh-medium secondary schools have been allocated and there are currently still 18 places available at Bro Edern and Plasmawr with families having until March 15 to accept or refuse offers or submit changes to their preferences.

“The council has received confirmation that only one child in Cardiff’s Welsh-medium primary schools is yet to submit an application for a place at a Welsh-medium secondary school. Of the 17 year six pupils enrolled at Ysgol Hamadryad 16 pupils have been offered a place at one of their preferred schools – 11 pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf and five at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Plasmawr,” the authority spokesman said.

“There are sufficient places remaining for those applicants who did not submit more than one preference on their initial application and for any other applicant who requests a place for Welsh-medium secondary school. The current catchment area boundaries of the Welsh-medium primary schools and secondary schools were agreed by the council’s cabinet in March 2020 following a city-wide consultation with schools, parents, pupils, and the wider community.

“The take-up of places in all schools is kept under continual review but this can fluctuate in each school’s catchment area. Although total intakes to Welsh-medium secondary school have fallen this year and are projected to reduce further in the 2025 and 2026 intake years the council is committed to working closely with partners on Cardiff’s Welsh Education Forum to continue to support the growth of the Welsh language and Welsh-medium school provision serving each area of the city.” If a place is not available at a secondary school of an applicant’s preferred language medium within three miles of their home address they are offered free home-to-school transport to their nearest alternative school of that language medium.

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