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Conwy council has been accused of trying to ‘micro-manage’ its residentsOne parent describes the form as ‘a baffling lesson in geography’But the council says it trimmed the list from one containing 300 languages
When it comes to finding out the first language of children being raised in North Wales, most would assume that English and Welsh were the two obvious choices.
So parents were stunned when pupils were sent home from school with a form asking them to tick the dialect that applied to them from a list of more than 80.
Remarkably, the local authority in Conwy, where 96 per cent of the population is white, says it trimmed the list from one supplied by the Welsh Government, which contained around 300 different languages and races.
The baffling list still included obscure languages spoken by races in far-flung corners of the world, including Igbo, a dialect spoken by people native to south-eastern Nigeria, and Tagalog, which is spoken by just a quarter of Filipinos.
Other languages listed on the form were Kannada, the mother tongue of people living in the Indian state of Kannartaka, and Wolof, the dialect of the Wolof people living in Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania.
It was accompanied by an equally confusing form asking parents to detail their child’s ethnicity, which included seven categories for travellers and gypsies alone, plus around 85 other nationalities and races.
The ‘data collection’ documents were issued by schools in Conwy County Borough Council this week as children returned after the summer holidays.
The area has a predominantly white British population, with less than four per cent coming from an Asian, black or other ethnic background.
The council says the information is needed to help schools ‘provide a better education service’.
But one parent said yesterday: ‘This form was a baffling lesson in geography.
‘It’s another example of councils trying to micro-manage and know everything about the people who live in their communities.
‘While everyone understands the importance of giving every child a good education, this seems completely over the top.
‘This part of North Wales is predominantly white British, but some council bureaucrat, in their bid to be politically correct and not offend anyone of a particular race or ethnicity, has spent time putting this endless list of obscure languages together.
‘It would be interesting to find out what they do with this information and exactly how many children growing up here note down any language other than English or Welsh.
‘This whole exercise could be a complete waste of time.’
Geraint James, head of education services at Conwy Council, said collecting data on the first language and ethnicity of pupils was a statutory requirement of the Welsh Government.
‘All maintained schools in Wales are required to complete a Pupil Level Annual School Census,’ he said.
‘The questions about National Identity, First Language, Ethnicity, Fluency in Welsh and Welsh at Home have been included in the data collection form to fulfil this requirement.’
A spokesman for the local authority said the lists had been abridged by the council from the Welsh Government’s own guidelines, which detail more than 300 different languages and races.
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