MS welcomes minister’s promise to work with Royal Welsh and Eisteddfod on school holiday reform

An MS has welcomed a Minister’s commitment to work with the Royal Welsh Show and the National Eisteddfod on reform of the school holiday calendar.

Llŷr Gruffydd, who represents North Wales in the Senedd, had urged the Welsh Government to ensure that two of Wales’s largest festivals weren’t harmed by any possible changes to the school year.

The Plaid Cymru politician, who is his party’s Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs received the assurance from the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education, Lynne Neagle, in the Senedd.

This follows the news that the Welsh Government has put its controversial plans to change the school holidays on hold. It says no final decision on the changes will be made during this Senedd term but work on possible options would continue over the coming year.

The proposals would have seen the summer break for Welsh school pupils reduced by one week from 2026. That week would have been added to what is currently a one-week half term break in October.

The Royal Welsh Show and the National Eisteddfod joined forces to fiercely oppose the plans, with organisers warning that they would have a negative impact on the festivals. 

The proposed changes would have meant that schools would still be open during the Royal Welsh Show, which is the largest agricultural event of its kind in Europe, and has always traditionally taken place annually in Llanelwedd during the first week of the summer break.

According to organisers if pupils and their families did not attend the event because they were in school, the society could lose more than £1m because of reduced gate sales, membership and camping revenue.

Llŷr Gruffydd MS said: “I think taking a step back in light of the responses to the consultation is sensible.

“I am surprised that there was no specific reference in your statement to the impact that some of the proposals would have had on the Royal Welsh and the National Eisteddfod, particularly as this was a very prominent feature in the summary that you published of the responses. Plaid Cymru has been clear in terms of our opposition to changes that would have a negative impact on the Royal Welsh or the Eisteddfod.

“You've said that no final decision will be taken in this Senedd term, but in your statement, you also say that the Government will continue to look at the second proposal in the consultation during the rest of this Senedd term. That was one of the proposals that would have had an impact on the Royal Welsh particularly.

“So can you confirm, as you develop that work, that you will not only be aware of the need to protect the interests of the Royal Welsh and the Eisteddfod, but that you will also ensure that any changes ultimately implemented will not lead to a negative impact on those festivals?”

In response Lynne Neagle said: “As you highlight, the Royal Welsh Show and the Eisteddfod did feature in the consultation and there have been discussions with relevant organisations in relation to that. I want to be really clear, though, that I think this is a decision that has to be taken on the basis of what is best for children and young people, but I know too that there are communities in Wales that really value taking their children and young people to visit the Royal Welsh Show.

“Indeed, the consultation itself reflected that there was a need to make sure that major events were catered for in that respect. So, I understand that this is a cause of concern for Members representing rural areas, and you do have my assurance that we will continue to engage with the Royal Welsh Show, the Eisteddfod and other organisations about this as we take this work forward.”

Following the debate in the Senedd, Llŷr Gruffydd said: “I welcome this assurance from the Cabinet Secretary for Education that she will work with the Royal Welsh Show, the Eisteddfod and other organisations on reform of the school calendar.

“It is now incumbent on the Welsh Government to make sure that any changes that are made don’t negatively impact these iconic festivals.”

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  • Marc Jones
    published this page in News 2024-06-21 14:45:26 +0100

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