A dragon, welsh cakes, sandwiches and opera singing in Welsh were among the highlights during an open day celebration to mark the 65th anniversary of the London Welsh School. The school, which was established in 1958, has called Hanwell Community Centre its home since moving to W7 in 2015 from NW10.
A series of events celebrating 65 years of the school is taking place and the first event was an open day on Saturday (22 April 2023) for Ealing residents to find out more about the school and the work it does.
The open day came as the school’s most recent Ofsted report has recently been published. Inspectors gave it a “Good” and said: “Leaders prioritise teaching pupils to read in both Welsh and English. Trained staff deliver well-sequenced phonics programmes. In both languages, the books that pupils use for practising their reading are matched to the sounds that they have learned. Staff assess pupils’ progress and give extra help to those who need to catch up. As a result, pupils learn to read with equal confidence and fluency in both English and Welsh.”
EALING.NEWS spoke to headteacher Tracey O’Brien and chair of governors Glenys Roberts about the open day and the importance London Welsh School has in London.
Ms O’Brien said on the open day: “Today’s open day has been amazing. It’s been really well attended. We’ve had loads and loads of parents and friends and families and the governing body come in from about 10 o’clock this morning to set up. Everybody’s contributed. We’ve had Welsh cakes, sandwiches, tea, coffee and we’ve had singing. Meinir Wyn Roberts who is a Welsh National Opera singer performed some great songs. We’ve had some fantastic support today from the local community.”
Ms O’Brien added: “We are completely bilingual and so every Monday and Friday we have Miri Mawr is a Welsh baby and toddler group. And then throughout the day, all the children here are taught the Welsh curriculum, so not the English one, the Welsh curriculum and everything is completely bilingual. We don’t do official open mornings and we encourage people to come in at any time so just give us a shout and we’ll give people a tour.”
Mrs Roberts was also pleased with the interest and turnout for the open day. She said: “I feel today has gone very well because we’ve had new families visiting, which is what we want and was the whole purpose of this afternoon and for those new families to speak to existing families. They can learn more about the school and I definitely feel we have achieved achieved that objective.”
Many have described London Welsh School as a hidden gem and a place where children can connect with their Welsh heritage. Mrs Roberts says that being able to learn Welsh provides a great opportunity for children to become bilingual which has many advantages.
She said: “Bilingual education is very good for you. It develops the brain. So learning Welsh if you’ve got Welsh connections and background and learning Welsh and English in parallel is very good.
“It helps you to learn other languages and you’re more open to a third and fourth language. So here, we teach Welsh and English and the children leave in year six fully bilingual”
Mrs Roberts spoke about their recent “Good” Ofsted report which the school is proud of and how the inspectors commented on the support offered to children.
Mrs Roberts said: “They get one to one lessons structured to their needs. And in addition to that, we offer personal development where the children get so much extracurricular opportunities in terms of visitors to the school, going to Westminster on St. David’s Day, going to a camp in Wales and going to having an Eisteddfod. Having an Eisteddfod is very important to the Welsh community and is a huge part of their upbringing.”
The London Welsh School is located at: Ysgol Gymraeg Llundain, 1st floor, Hanwell Community Centre, Westcott Crescent, Ealing, W7 1PD
Tel: 0208 575 0237