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Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg

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Title: Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg  
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Subject: List of schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Secondary schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Glyncoch
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Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg

Ysgol Garth Olwg
Motto "Deuparth ffordd eu gwybod"/
Established 1962 -> Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen
Type Comprehensive School
Principal Mrs. Angela Williams, B.A., C.P.C.P.,
Deputy Elfed Charles
Founder Gwilym Humphreys
Location Main Road
Church Village (nr Pontypridd)
Rhondda Cynon Taf
CF38 1DX
Local authority Rhondda Cynon Taf
Students 860
Gender Both
Ages 11–18
Houses 6,Dafydd (dark blue), Gruffydd (light blue), Hywel (yellow), Iolo (red), Llywelyn (purple), and Owain (orange)
Colours Black and Green
Publication Bytholwyrdd
Campus Website

Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen/Garth Olwg is a Welsh Medium comprehensive school in the village of Church Village near Pontypridd, in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales. It was the first Welsh language comprehensive school in the south of Wales.

Attention was brought upon the school recently with the revival of a campaign to retain the name of Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen over the local council's decision to rename the school Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg, for reasons of historical significance.[1] Though many believe the decision was actually taken because the council linked the Rhydfelen name with John Owen.

Welsh medium education

Education in Wales differs in certain respects from the systems used elsewhere in the United Kingdom. As Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen is a Welsh medium school, all subjects apart from English are taught in the Welsh language, with pupils encouraged to speak Welsh with one another outside of lessons.

Background and History

Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen/Garth Olwg (1962 - Present day)

Rhydfelen (Now Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg) was established in 1962 in the village of Rhydyfelin near Pontypridd. It was the first Welsh language comprehensive school in the south of Wales and the second to be established in the country. In the first year 80 pupils were on the school roll.

Gwilym Humphreys was the first Headmaster of Rhydfelen. He was born in Wallasey, England, the son of a Presbyterian Minister and raised in the mining village of Rhosllannerchrugog, Denbighshire.[2]

As the school grew a house system was developed to group the children. In Welsh they were called llysoedd (plural; llys singular). Up to 1973 there were three Houses: Dinefwr (dark blue), Ifor Hael (red) and Sycharth (yellow). In 1973, when the school had grown to nearly 1,000 pupils, the number of llysoedd was increased to six. They were named Dafydd (dark blue), Gruffydd (light blue), Hywel (yellow), Iolo (red), Llywelyn (purple), and Owain (orange).

The school had its own magazine called Na Nog, which was published annually.

The buildings were grouped roughly into three blocks and named after the Welsh kingdoms of Gwent, Powys and Dyfed. The buildings in Gwent were the oldest and dated from the Second World War. Extensive use was made of portable cabins (portacabins) as school rooms and these were mainly in the Gwent block of the school. Powys was a three-storey building with classrooms a canteen (called y ffreutur) a staffroom a swimming pool and it also housed the 6th form area the main staffroom, the school reception and the headmasters office. Dyfed was a two-storey building with classrooms a large hall and it also housed the school library. The school gymnasium burned down and was replaced by a new gymnasium in approximately 1977. This gymnasium survived intact until 2007, when the school site was demolished. The old school site also had a large on-site Rugby Field, and tennis courts.

New Campus

In 2006, the school moved to a new site as part of the Gartholwg Community Campus complex in Church Village, which consists of Ysgol Gynradd Garth Olwg Welsh medium primary school, Church Village library, Garth Olwg nursery, Garth Olwg Lifelong Learning Centre and the replacement building for Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen.

Today approximately 1000 students are on the school roll, including 160 students studying at sixth form.[3] About ninety-two percent of pupils come from homes where the main language is English as against eight percent from homes where Welsh is the main language. A new school magazine, Bytholwyrdd, has been published every quarter since 2006.

The school itself consists of five blocks: Berthlwyd, Celyn, Drysgoed, Maendy and Pentwyn.

The school currently has six feeder primary schools. They are:

Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Castellau (Beddau), Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Evan James (Pontypridd), Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Garth Olwg (Church Village), Ysgol Gynradd Heol-y-celyn, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Gwaelod y Garth, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Pont Sion Norton.(Pontypridd)

In 2011, the school received a Band Five (lowest) rating by the Welsh Assembly Government.[4]

School Name

When the school re-located to the Garth Olwg campus in 2006, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council stated that a name change, to Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg, was logical. However, this change was met with opposition from pupils, parents, former pupils, and staff at the school, who wished to retain the old name, Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen, in order to retain the identity of the school and the historical associations that its name held.

Some pupils expressed strong opinions on the matter, with letters published in local newspapers, including plans to boycott the school uniform if it contained the new name of the school, demonstrating the strength of opinion amongst the pupils.

The petitions committee of the Welsh Assembly heard a petition, presented by the acting head teacher Dr. Philip Ellis, in October and November 2007.[5]

On the 16 March 2009, a letter was released, from the chairman of the Governing body, informing the school's parents and pupils of the recent decision by the Governing Body in relation to the name of the School. In a meeting of the Governing Body with representatives of the Local Authority in the Autumn Term of 2008 (with no pupil representation), it was pressed upon the Governors that the legal name of the school was Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg and that it was required to recognise this. Realising that it had no real choice in the matter, the Governing Body voted to recognise Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg as the Official and Legal name of the school.

Although the name of the school continued to be Garth Olwg officially, events at the start of 2009 meant that the school’s name be re-considered, again. Certain Rhondda Cynon Taf councillors supported the continuation of Rhydfelen, including Jane Davidson (AM) and Dr Kim Howells (MP). Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council considered the issue in a meeting held on the 22 April 2009.

But in 2011 following the Band 5 result and demonstrations by pupils within the school, one of the school's governors - Martyn Geraint [a former pupil, head-boy and parent of 3 pupils] - asked if it would be possible for the name to be looked at again. Mr Geraint asked for the LEA's help in the hope that results would improve if everyone could work together - but his request resulted in his suspension as a governor in 2012.


School badge

The Old School Badge

Although the school’s name changed to Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg in 2008, the school badge retained the name Rhydfelen until the 2008-2009 term. There was a competition held during April 2009 to create a new badge for the school. The competition was open to every pupil and also the pupils in the final year of the feeding primary schools. The chosen design enabled the winning pupil to follow her design from conception to seeing the final product. Unfortunately, the competition to decide on a new badge was not deemed fair by many pupils and parents - as the chance to keep the old badge was somehow removed between the meeting to decide on the entries for the competition and the ballot paper - this led to a feeling of unfairness.

The old school badge depicted a coal tip or a mountain of coal which was once a common sight in the locality and the green is the grass growing down below. It was supposed to symbolise that the Welsh language will one day grow over the people like the grass will one day grow over the mountain of coal.

The new badge depicts a mountain range in the shape of a 'G', for Garth Olwg and Gymraeg. The "Gymraeg" justification is extremely tenuous, since "Cymraeg" is the de facto name of the language, and "Gymraeg" a mutation, normally prefixed by 'Y'. The mountain is, of course the Garth Mountain, where the school derives its name.

The School uniform was re-launched during the Autumn term of 2009. It consists of a black jumper with the new school badge, white shirt, green and gray striped tie, black trousers/skirt and black shoes.

Examination results

At GCSE, the percentage of pupils gaining at least five grades A*-C, including English/Welsh and Maths is 57%.[6]

Notable former pupils

The notable alumni in the following list attended 'Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen' pre 2006:

Actors include Richard Harrington, Ieuan Rhys, Jeremi Cockram, Daniel Evans, Richard Lynch, Lisa Palfrey, Gareth Potter, Maria Pride, and Geraint Todd.

Computer scientist Rob Hartill who is best known for his work on the Internet Movie Database website and the Apache web server. Notable for playing a key role in the initial growth of the World Wide Web.

Engineers include Matthew Edwards, part of the Swansea University's efforts with the Bloodhound SSC rocket car.

Entertainers include Martyn Geraint, children's entertainer, Geraint Benney, and TV cook Dudley Newbury.

Entrepreneur: Ian Jindal, former Head of Online Operations (1998–2000) at the BBC.

Broadcasters and Journalists include Magi Dodd, presenter on BBC Radio Cymru's C2 show; Catrin Beard, former presenter of S4C's "Hel Straeon" (sister of Emyr Lewis, Chaired and Crowned poet), BBC television and radio broadcaster Alun Thomas and BBC political reporter and presenter Ciaran Jenkins, (brother of Bethan Jenkins AM), Dudley Newbury, presenter of cookery programmes on S4C

Politicians include Jon Owen Jones MP, Bethan Jenkins AM, Delyth Evans former AM, and Dafydd Trystan Davies, former Chief Executive of Plaid Cymru.

Sports-players include footballers Owain Warlow & Matthew Maksimovic who both went on to play Welsh League football for Llanelli & Merthyr respectively, Welsh international rugby player [7]

Writers and poets include [8] novelist Nia Williams and Gavin Courtney, author of the New York Times Bestseller "How Asian are you?".

Notable former members of staff

Huw Bunford guitarist in the rock band, Super Furry Animals was former Head of Art at the school.

John Owen, creator of the Welsh Television children's series. Pam Fi Duw? and author of the series of books of the same name, was a Drama teacher at the school. He committed suicide in 2001 after having been arrested and charged with serious criminal offences against children.[9][10]

Clywch Report on Child Abuse

The Clywch Report[11] on allegations of [child sex abuse] at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen was published in June 2004 following a Public Inquiry chaired by the late Peter Clarke, Children's Commissioner for Wales. Clywch is the Welsh word for listen.

The Report highlighted serious failings within the school and Education Authority which allowed the teacher John Owen to abuse pupils over a number of years. Complaints about John Owen dated back to 1983/4 but were ignored.[11]

After the publication of the Clywch Report, nine former pupils of the school brought a legal action to claim damages for the injuries caused to them. All nine cases were settled before trial by December 2008.

Gallery of Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen@Garth Olwg


  1. ^ a b "Na i adfer enw Ysgol Rhydfelen". BBC News. 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  2. ^ Speech to the Valleys Vall conferences, 1971
  3. ^ English
  4. ^ "Three Taff Ely schools ranked bottom of new education banding system". BBC News. 2011-12-23. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  5. ^ "Petition against school name change". Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  6. ^ "School Resultls". Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  7. ^ "NABBA Mr Wales results 2011". Retrieved 2011-05-. 
  8. ^ "Gay people share life stories in book by Pontypridd man". BBC News. 2010-04-11. Retrieved 2010-07-.  09
  9. ^ "BBC News timeline of events". 2004-07-01. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
  10. ^ "BBC News story". 2004-07-01. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
  11. ^ a b "The Clywch Report". 

External links

  • School website
  • Lifelong Learning Centre Website
  • Photos of Rhydfelen after it closed.
  • Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg Rate My Teachers.
  • Buy School Uniform
  • Gwefan Atgof Rhydfelen
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