School Banned Autistic Children From Canteen Because They Didn't Speak Welsh

14/08/2014 16:58 | Updated 20 May 2015

Autistic children banned from eating lunch in school canteen

A school has backed down after it banned autistic children from its canteen because they couldn't speak Welsh.

Children with special needs were forced to eat lunch at their desks ever since their school was taken over by a newly-created Welsh language unit called Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon in Newport, Gwent. It was previously home to the English language Brynglas Primary.

Since September, the autistic unit has been split from the Welsh language school and run by nearby Maes Ebbw school.

The lunchtime ban caused outrage in the community, with the local newspaper taking up a parents' cause on their behalf. Now mums and dads have been told that their children will be able to leave their classrooms for lunch in the canteen.

Dad Razaq Shakir, who sends his son, Ubayd, to the unit, received a letter from Julie Nichols, the head of Maes Ebbw, saying: "Your son will be eating in the hall at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon with two other pupils from the Brynglas centre, starting from March 3.

"Thank you for your patience while we met with all parents to identify their child's needs."

Mr Shakir said: "The letter does not give details whether they will be eating at the same time as the Welsh language pupils or before or after.

"It just says they will be taking so many kids across. This should never have happened in the first place.

"It will take them a bit of time to settle down because they are now used to this routine of eating in the class – but they should settle after a few days."

A Maes Ebbw spokesman said: "As the children in Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon are encouraged to speak Welsh at all times, including at break times, it was agreed the Brynglas ASD Unit pupils would eat lunch in the centre until all parents had expressed a preference.

"On the advice of experts it was decided in the best interests of the pupils that they needed time to get used to their new surroundings.

"It was always intended that the schools would work closely together and gradually integrate pupils."

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