Trio lose battle against speaking Welsh

12th January 1996 at 00:00
Three Gwent comprehensives have lost their fight to opt out of compulsory Welsh language teaching.

Chepstow, Caldicot and Monmouth schools, all within a stone's throw of the border, draw up to 25 per cent of their pupils from England.

The three sought dispensation because of the small number of Welsh speakers in the county, only 2.5 per cent of the population.

Under the 1989 Education Act the language must be timetabled and with the three schools now agreeing to meet a September 1996 deadline set by the Welsh Office all Wales' 217 secondary schools will be complying.

Fears that compulsion may persuade parents to transfer their children to schools over the border in England were voiced by Mike Penny, chairman of governors at Monmouth.

He said: "There has been no demand for Welsh in the past and we have not offered it in the timetable."

Difficulties were also foreshadowed by John Huntley, chairman of Chepstow governors: "We envisage problems with parents who don't want their children taught Welsh."

The Welsh Language Board insisted that all pupils at the schools should be taught according to the national curriculum for Wales which includes the Welsh language.

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