The pivotal role of Aberystwyth in the survival of the Welsh language was emphasised on Friday with the 70th birthday celebrations of the first Welsh language school. Originally begun in 1939 with just seven pupils at the now demolished old Urdd centre in Llanbadarn Road, the Ysgol Gymraeg has been sited in Plas Crug Avenue since 1989 and is now a thriving school of 370 pupils. In February the school’s latest Estyn Report awarded it the maximum Grade 1 in all seven categories. Only 48% of children are from homes where the main language is Welsh but all reach full fluency by the end of the second year.
The school’s success in attracting children from outside Aberystwyth is sometimes blamed for threatened closures of small rural schools. However moot points like this are massively outweighed by the school’s proven quality and its crucial role in the development of the Welsh language in the Aberystwyth area.