Located a few minutes from RAF Valley, Ysgol Y Tywyn is a Welsh-medium school, bi-lingual in Welsh and English. Children from the RAF station and the local community attend the school. RAF Valley is categorised as an isolated posting/location. RAF Valley is a training station for fighter pilots, so there can be less deployment and mobility of families has decreased over the last few years. Postings of families occur through a trickle movement (a few at a time). Some veteran families have decided to settle in the area and the children attend the school. Children from Armed Forces families bring a wealth of experiences and backgrounds to our school, including the different places they have lived, countries they have travelled and the lifestyle of living within an Armed Forces family.
We regularly experience mobility, when families are posted in and out of the Station. The children will often be separated from their serving parent, when they have to work away, attend training or deploy on an operational tour. New children and families can find learning Welsh a challenge, as well as transitioning from different countries and learning in a new curriculum framework. E.g. Moving from Scotland and England.
Number of Service children at Ysgol Y Tywyn: 19 (16%)
Case study completed by: Emyr Williams (Headteacher) and the children at Ysgol Y Tywyn, Anglesey
“Nearly all pupils have a good understanding of the advantages of being bilingual and see the Welsh language as a living and useful language.”
- Identifying Service children’s needs
- Support for children following identification
- Supporting families to be bi-lingual
- Links with the local community and Armed Forces
1. How does the Ysgol Y Tywyn identify the needs of Service children on entry?
- We ensure all staff have an awareness of Service children’s needs and experiences
- New children are assessed during their first few weeks at the school across the core subjects
- We are all aware of their possible emotional needs and support that they may need should a parent deploy or spend time away from the family and these needs are regularly monitored
- We contact the previous school for information and feedback on the child E.g. school books, recent learning and previous learning support needed.
‘‘Teachers assess pupils’ skills purposefully on entry to the school. There are useful systems to monitor and track pupils’ achievement and wellbeing as they move through the school. These support pupils to identify and target purposeful support for pupils, including those with additional learning needs.’’
2. What support does Ysgol Y Tywyn provide for Service children following identification of need?
We provide an LSA in each class, the adult to child ratio is high, enabling support to any child that may need it
Each class has target groups to focus on group and individual needs across all learning areas and individuals will have focused targets to achieve and these are shared with parents
Children who are identified as having emotional and wellbeing needs can have the support of the Emotional Literacy Support Assistant trained member of staff, this can be in a group or 1:1
Staff are trained with Trauma Awareness, trauma can be caused by a variety of reasons and the staff are prepared to support any child’s needs
Thrive training is being undertaken to support children’s emotional and wellbeing needs.
3. What support does Ysgol Y Tywyn provide for families to be bi-lingual How does your school encourage a positive view of the Welsh curriculum, culture and language with its Service families?
- Support and advice are provided during induction and settling into the school
- Children in Nursery and Foundation Phase are immersed in Welsh across the curriculum from entry, children in Key Stage Two are developing their bi-lingual expertise and use of Welsh across all learning
- The school environment/displays are in Welsh/English
- The school embraces Welsh and bi-bilingualism, families are encouraged to embrace this within the community and at home
- The school shares performances within the local community in Welsh
- The school uses the local area/community to develop learning across the curriculum in Welsh
- Welsh lessons for families are held after school to support transition and bi-lingual needs. This has been very successful and Level One has been completed in 2019, now they are completing Level Two. The school is running more starter welsh lessons in Level One for new families this year. These were previously funded by the Welsh Fund and due to its success, it has been continued through the school budget
- Community development is in place, to bring families across the local and Service community, integration is a key strategy for the school
- A variety of reading books are available across the school, fiction and non-fiction in Welsh
- We have recorded a teacher reading all the Welsh books and have provided a QR code on the back of every book with the recording, this helps parents understand how to pronounce all the Welsh words
- Social media information is in Welsh and English.
‘‘The school’s response to establishing the digital framework and promoting the Welsh language across the school is sound.’’
4. What links does Ysgol Y Tywyn have with the local community and the Armed Forces?
- We are near to the RAF Valley, so we have easy access to facilities including the gym, MET office and airfield
- We have close links with the Community and Youth Liaison Officer, who provides support and guidance
- We hold and attend events on the station E.g. Leavers assembly, carol service, SSCE Cymru Stakeholder Day
- Visitors regularly attend the school, including: Police unit and dogs, Pilots, Search and rescue and they share their roles and experiences with the children and staff
- Leaders attend the Children and Young People’s Board Meetings and Armed Forces meetings held at the station.
“Visitors include local artists, a priest from the armed forces and pilots from the air force. A notable example of this is the visit by one of the heroes who rescued young children from a cave in Thailand. This prompts pupils to write thoughtfully and encourages them to feel empathy towards others.”
Advice for Schools to share with parents
By choosing Welsh-medium education, you’ll be giving your child an additional life skill, the ability to communicate in two languages, both spoken and written
Always look around the school prior to starting and ask what support and advice is available for your child
Start learning some simple Welsh phrases using the online resources listed in this case study
Use some Welsh phrases/objects at home – learn a new phrase/object every day as a family
Use Welsh when you are out and about in the local community
Join an adult Welsh class at the school or locally. You don’t need to be able to speak Welsh to attend, there’s always a warm welcome for everybody, and the sessions will also help build your confidence to use Welsh with your child
Find out from your class teacher the types of phrases they will start to learn in class and how you can help
Use the Welsh films our Service children made to learn some Welsh phrases, numbers and sing happy birthday.
Useful websites to support the learning of Welsh
Date produced: December 2019