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80% of kids would be ‘deprived’ of ability to speak Welsh, under proposal

13 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
Picture by Alan Fryer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Language campaigners have lambasted proposed plans by Qualifications Wales to retain Welsh Second Language GCSE.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith wants it to implement the Welsh Government’s policy of discontinuing the qualification and introduce a single continuum of Welsh-medium education for all.

The campaign group has warned that a failure to do this would “continue to deprive 80% of children in Wales of the ability to speak Welsh.”

Qualifications Wales is currently consulting on the future of GCSEs in Wales to accompany the new Curriculum.

One of its proposals is to “discontinue GCSE Welsh Second Language and create a new, bigger GCSE designed for learners in English-medium contexts.”

But according to Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, this is an attempt to “retain and rebrand an inferior Welsh Second Language qualification.”

In its written response to the consultation, Cymdeithas yr Iaith wrote: “Unless the development of a single continuum of learning Welsh leads to a new system of ensuring continuity of learning and teaching, measuring progress and one holistic qualification, 80% of pupils in Wales will continue to be deprived of the opportunity to be bilingual.

“That is not the fault of the pupils but rather of a lack of equality of opportunity and an education system that lets young people down.

“The statistics underline the need for a radical change in the teaching and assessment of the Welsh language – the rebranding of Welsh Second Language as recommended in Qualifications Wales’ proposals will do nothing but uphold the current injustice.”

‘Unelected body’ 

The Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group, Toni Schiavone, said: “Despite the Government’s commitment to discontinue the Welsh Second Language qualification and establish a single continuum of teaching Welsh to all pupils so that everyone can learn Welsh, Qualifications Wales – an unelected body – intends to retain and rebrand a Welsh Second Language qualification.

“They are not even willing to consider the option of creating a single qualification for all pupils, despite the strong evidence for doing so.

“Years of Estyn inspections, expert reports and the real experiences of pupils and teachers in all corners of the country show that Welsh Second Language has failed.

“Qualifications Wales’ proposed plans would do a disservice to yet another generation of children and continue to deprive 80% of children in Wales of the ability to speak Welsh.

“If we are serious about reaching a million speakers, and ensuring that all pupils achieve their potential and are able speak our national language, we must scrap the Welsh Second Language qualification and establish one real learning pathway – one continuum, one qualification and an equal opportunity for all.”

The consultation closes on Friday, 16 April. Those who share Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s concerns can send a response opposing the plans by going to: cymdeithas.cymru/ebost/ymateb-i-ymgynghoriad-cymwysterau-cymru

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