It’s a big year for us at Wales International as we’re celebrating our 70th birthday, but we’re not the only ones celebrating, Ysgol Gymraeg Llundain – The London Welsh School is celebrating its 60th birthday this year!
It’s fantastic that families from Wales who have moved to London, continue to choose Welsh language education for their children. To learn more about this fantastic school, we arranged an interview with acting head teacher Sioned Jones.
First of all Sioned, how and when did you start working here at the London Welsh School?
I’m originally from Llanberis in North Wales. After university I worked as a teacher in Tonyrefail in South Wales for four years, before working in Ysgol yr Hendre in Patagonia. I loved it in Patagonia and I was only meant to be there for 10 months, but I stayed for 2 years. It was amazing to see the Welsh language being spoken outside of Wales. After returning home I contacted the London Welsh School, I wanted to continue promoting the Welsh language outside of Wales. They didn’t have any jobs at the time but I was appointed soon after that. I’ve been here for 2 years and am now acting head teacher.
How many children attend the school and are they all from Wales?
We currently have 27 pupils. The majority come from homes where at least one of the parents are originally from Wales or they have a strong connection with Wales.
Do you follow the Welsh curriculum?
Yes, but we introduce the English earlier than they do in Wales, as we’re inspected by OFSTED like all other schools in England, so we must reach their targets in terms of the English language.
Is it difficult for the pupils to settle into English secondary schools?
Not at all. The majority settle into English language education very well. Many choose to do their GCSE Welsh and they succeed to a very high standard in their exams. This is a multi-cultural school, we have families who speak Welsh and English, Welsh and Italian, Welsh and German and more. Speaking two or three languages is the norm for the majority of our pupils.
What are the main challenges facing the London Welsh School today?
Money. Financial challenges are common in all schools in Wales and England! The families make financial contributions towards their child’s education at this school and they are extremely supportive and want to see the Welsh language flourish here in London.
Who are the staff?
We have five full time staff and two part time. They either come from Wales or have a strong connection with Wales. They are all extremely passionate about the Welsh language and keen to provide an inclusive Welsh experience for the children.
How easy is it to find Welsh resources for the pupils and the families?
The Welsh Books Council visit us every year to showcase the latest Welsh books and resources for us and the families, so this makes it very easy. It’s also easy to keep up to date with the latest releases and new resources online, this makes it easy for the Welsh world-wide.
Do the children get the opportunity to visit Wales?
Many of the families visit Wales on a regular basis. The school organises an annual visit to the Urdd camp in Llangrannog too and the parents come with us! It’s great fun and the children love coming ‘home’ to Wales!
It’s been a year of celebrating. Do you have any other celebrations to look forward to?
Yes! On the 27th of October the children will be performing with the Joint Male Choirs of London alongside soloists Glenys Roberts and Huw Rhys Evans and conducted by Pat Jones from Chwilog. The 60th Concert takes place in Capel Jewin and the children are really excited! All the details can be found on our website www.ysgolgymraegllundain.co.uk
Wales International would like to thank Sioned for her time and her insight into this amazing school. I’m sure we speak on behalf of all our readers as we wish the London Welsh School a very happy birthday!
By Heulwen Davies, Wales International