Showcasing Welsh

On Tuesday, June 25th we opened our doors for a special Welsh Language Open Day to celebrate and showcase the work we have done to improve and promote the Welsh ethos and Welsh language in school over the last few years. During the event Ysgol Aberconwy was presented with a Silver Siarter Iaith Cymraeg Campus Uwchradd award by Meinir Thomson and Heledd Morgan from the Welsh Government, making us the first secondary school in the whole of North Wales to achieve the award!

Conwy County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Julie Fallon, congratulated the school on its Award. She said “I’m delighted that Ysgol Aberconwy has achieved this award. It’s a reflection of the hard work of everyone at the school to help young people benefit by increasing their use of Welsh.”

The new Siarter Iaith Cymraeg Campus Uwchradd Award was launched at the Eisteddfod yr Urdd Maldwyn this year, where our year 12 student, Angharad Brookes was also announced the winner of the nationwide Siarter Iaith Uwchradd logo design competition! (See the article here). This new award recognises the efforts and ways that secondary schools can inspire and encourage learners to use Welsh in school and in all other aspects of their lives.

Mrs Luned Davies Parry, Deputy Head of Welsh and Siarter Iaith Cymraeg Campus Uwchradd co-ordinator said “It’s been a privilege to be piloting the new Siarter Iaith Cymraeg Campus Uwchradd Award for Conwy schools as well as other secondary schools in North Wales. We opened our doors to our neighbouring secondary schools, secondary schools from further afield, our cluster primary schools and to outside agencies like the Urdd, Menter Iaith, Mudiad Meithrin to name but a few. We have showcased all we have done to raise the profile of Cymraeg at Ysgol Aberconwy and gave a tour of the school!”

Ysgol Aberconwy’s Welshness and Bilingualism Coordinator, Elen Môn Williams added, “We would like to thank all the staff and students, especially ‘Criw Cymraeg’ for all their efforts, with their support and encouragement Welsh is now flourishing in school.”

Conwy County Borough Council’s Head of Education, Dr Lowri Brown attended the event and said, “I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the learners and staff members and was really inspired by their enthusiasm and valuable contributions towards embedding y Gymraeg throughout the school. The sessions were really informative and well structured and it was really a pleasure to be amongst such polite, energetic learners who were really keen to share their work and demonstrated their passion for the language so confidently.”

Dr Elin Angharad Davies, Workplace Tutor Organiser at Bangor University said, “It was great to see what you are doing at Aberconwy and the bilingual experiences that the children are given. I loved hearing Welsh and English side by side in the English lesson, normalising and nurturing a bilingual classroom. Myself and Eryl have visited many schools recently and we were blown away by how much Cymraeg were on your walls, in the corridor and how passionate your staff are about the Welsh language.”

Ysgol Aberconwy has initiatives like ‘Gwobrau Iaith Adrannol/Departmental Language Awards’, a bespoke scheme that provides a clear framework for teachers to promote and increase the use of the Welsh language day to day with learners. We also hold an annual School Eisteddfod in March every year and learners of all ages can meet at lunchtimes in ‘Y Caban’, a unique colourful and modern room, to participate in Welsh activities beyond the classroom.

Conwy County Councillor and Welsh Language Champion Gwennol Ellis said, “During our journey around the School, it was clear that there was a genuine respect for the Welsh language – in the classes and corridors and on the high-quality and unique noticeboards, which are worth seeing. I was delighted with the names chosen for the different locations within and outside the School. While walking around the building, I was struck by how possible it would be to transfer what is happening in Ysgol Aberconwy to other Conwy schools and organizations including the County Council, with the right will.”

Ian Gerrard, Headteacher, said, “We’re really proud of this award, which builds on the Bronze award we gained in September 2023. It’s a testament to the hard work and enthusiasm of pupils in increasing their use of Welsh day-to-day. We’re now putting plans in place to work towards the Gold Award!”