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London Welsh School in Hanwell celebrates 65 years with free open day for all Ealing residents

Since 1958, there has been a Welsh school known as Ysgol Gymraeg Llundain in the borough where residents can send their children and learn the language.

Now in its 65th year, the London Welsh School, which has been based at Hanwell Community Centre since 2015, is holding a series of events to let Ealing residents know what it offers.

One of the first events is a free open day on 22 April 2023 from 1pm to 4pm which will be celebrating all aspects of Welsh culture.

London Welsh School open day
London Welsh School open day

In its most recent Ofsted report, 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.”

It added: “Pupils are curious, keen to learn and want to succeed. These positive attitudes contribute well to supporting them to attain new knowledge.”

EALING.NEWS spoke to Tracey O’Brien, headteacher of the London Welsh School to find out more.

How long has the Welsh school been in Ealing and how was it established?
The school was founded in 1958 by a group of fathers who were sending their children to Welsh lessons on Saturdays. It moved to the current location at Hanwell Community Centre in 2015. The school is small but well equipped. The EYFS classroom is a beautiful learning environment, all children in the school have their own laptops and we have a super playground with different play areas.

How many classes/pupils do you have and also what age has been your youngest learners and your oldest? And what do you teach?
We currently have children in EYFS (4 years old) and years 4 and 5 (10 years old) – some families relocated back to Wales after the pandemic so our classes are small. We also run a Welsh speaking baby and toddler group called Miri Mawr.

We teach The Welsh Curriculum, we teach in English and Welsh and have a number of full time and part time teachers, this means children in Key Stage 2 also receive weekly French and music lessons.

What challenges do you face in getting people to learn Welsh?
Our biggest challenge is that not enough people know about us – despite our social media campaigns. We find lots of families want their children to learn Welsh and keep the language alive here in London, but we are not widely known about. We are the only Welsh School in England! Our baby and toddler group is facilitated in Welsh which means parents meet up and can speak Welsh to each other.

What has been your proudest achievement and moment for the school?
Every year we attend the St. David’s Day celebrations in London – our children sing at the Houses of Parliament and they wear national dress. We also enter all our children into the Eisteddfod which we hold annually at the school.

How has the popularity of learning Welsh changed over the years?
Welsh continues to grow in popularity with more and more people wanting to speak, practice or learn Welsh. The number of Welsh speaking schools is increasing all over!

What message do you have for Ealing residents to learn Welsh?
The school is open to all children who want a bilingual education – from birth to Year 6! We don’t have planned open mornings as we welcome new families at any time, they just need to contact the school. Come to the event this Saturday for Welsh cakes, music and a childrens entertainer.

What next for the Welsh school? What are your plans for the future?
We hope to expand our roll, reach more families who may not know we exist and offer this wonderful cultural experience to more children.

The London Welsh School is located at: Ysgol Gymraeg Llundain, 1st floor, Hanwell Community Centre, Westcott Crescent, Ealing, W7 1PD
Tel: 0208 575 0237

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