Ysgol Penboyr is the first Church school in Carmarthenshire to win a new language charter award.
The school has been given a Codi Caerau Sir Gâr Bronze Award for the progress the school and its pupils has made in promoting the use of incidental Welsh.
Ysgol Penboyr is a Voluntary Church in Wales School located in the rural village of Felindre, controlled by the Authority of Carmarthenshire. The pupils come mainly from a wide catchment area that includes many local villages - Cwmpengraig, Waungilwen, Cwmhiraeth, Penboyr, Drefelin and the surrounding rural area.
Carol James, the Headteacher said: “The school presently has 106 pupils on its register. 70 percent of the pupils come from non-Welsh speaking families, so we are very happy that the school has managed to win this Bronze Award."
In order to win the Codi Caerau Sir Gâr Bronze Award, various activities were arranged by pupils and staff to promote the Welsh language, under the leadership of Mrs Sharon Jones, the school's Welsh Language Co-ordinator.
The language charter for the pupils was launched with a performance by Mari Mathias from the group Raffdam, who is a pupil at Ysgol Bro Teifi. A Fashion Show was held by the company 'Shwl di Mwl' and information regarding the advantages of bilingualism was shared with parents, along with the intention of winning a language charter award.
The Parents and Friends Association organised a Saint Dwynwen fun evening with Tudur Phillips for all school pupils. Menter Iaith Gorllewin Sir Gâr arranged that Anni Llŷn and year 4 pupils wrote the words for a new Language Charter Anthem for the school, and the original music was composed by Mrs Eirlys Phillips.
At the Urdd Eisteddfod of 2017 the school won second prize in the competition for creating a Welsh website on internet safety, which will be useful for schools in Wales to learn about e-safety.
In 2016, the school celebrated its 150th birthday, and this year Foundation Phase pupils have been performing an original show on the history of the school called ‘Penboyr Un Pump Sero, Dewch am dro’ for parents and the community.
Mrs James said: “As part of the show, there was a ‘Welsh Not’ scene on how pupils in the past were punished for speaking Welsh. The children of Ysgol Penboyr appreciate the opportunities they have to learn and speak the language everywhere."
Also, pupils created a radio programme on Cymru FM that included interviews, songs, and parts of our show, and a website was created to share the school's history with the wider community and schools across Wales.
Since 2008, the school has won awards every year for projects on the history of our local heritage and has received a total of £4,750 in the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative competition. Representatives from the school will attend an awards ceremony once again this year, on 7th July, for the project on school history.
Carmarthenshire County Council executive board member for education and children’s services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “I’m very proud that these children have been inspired to use the Welsh language outside the confines of the classroom in all aspects of their lives. I hope many other schools will follow their lead.”
Executive board member for the development of the Welsh language Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said: “It is a pleasure to see and to congratulate my old primary school on its success.
“My personal debt is great for the Welsh education I received there, and has been the linguistic foundation for me over the years. Seeing the present-day pupils of Penboyr School having the same opportunities is a very special thing. Thanks to the staff and pupils for their good work.”
The language charter's simple aim is to increase the children's social use of Welsh.
The Language Charter asks for all members of the school community – the school council, pupils, the workforce, parents, governors and the wider community – to contribute in order to ensure full ownership of the charter.
To ensure that everyone is awarded on the basis of their efforts, a principle was established that each school sets its own challenging and achievable vision. The gold award is the aim over a period of three years.
Because fewer children experience Welsh at home, the Charter is important to ensure the language's future and Welsh traditions. It is also important to ensure that Welsh is the school's natural language and that Welsh is in a strong position here if non-Welsh speakers begin in the school.