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Campaign group prepare roadmap to universal Welsh-medium education

10 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Image: Books Council of Wales

A Welsh language campaign group is set to launch a roadmap to all schools in Wales being fully Welsh medium by 2050 – a doubling of the Welsh Government’s target of 50%.

In a briefing session in the Senedd next week, Cymdeithas yr Iaith will launch statistical work on their proposed increase in Welsh-medium education to ensure that every child in Wales receives it by 2050.

The aim of the organisation’s work is to show that the goal is “completely achievable” with sufficient will from the Welsh Government.

The launch comes a few months before the Government introduces its Welsh Language Education Bill to Parliament

If the Bill were to be passed in its current form, it would set a statutory target that 50% of Welsh children receive Welsh-medium education by 2050.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith is campaigning to increase that target to 100%.

Universal Welsh medium education

In a special briefing session in the Senedd on 18 April, sponsored by Heledd Fychan MS, the group will launch ‘Welsh Education for All: Reaching the Objective, which provides statistical research on the progress that must be seen in every county every 5 years to achieve universal Welsh-medium education.

Toni Schiavone

The session will be chaired by the Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group, Toni Schiavone.

Speaking ahead of the launch, he said: “The Welsh Education Bill is a unique opportunity for the Welsh Government to give the Welsh language to all children living in Wales, but we worry that the opportunity will be missed.

“Even if the Bill met its own targets, half of our children would still be deprived of the ability to speak Welsh confidently. That is not the ambition of the people of Wales.

“Every child in Wales should have the right to learn Welsh fluently, and Welsh-medium education is the only way to achieve that.

“It is a huge challenge, and great effort is needed to achieve it, but the statistical work we are about to launch shows that this ambition is completely achievable with political will and sufficient funding.”

“Lack of progress”

Cymdeithas yr Iaith has expressed recently shared concerns about the lack of progress in Welsh medium education, calling for a “fundamental change of attitude” from Welsh Government.

Education and Welsh Language Minister, Jeremy Miles

Toni Schiavone, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group, said: “It is clear from reading Jeremy Miles’ annual report on Cymraeg 2050 that we have not seen the progress required to grow Welsh-medium education, and that there is no clear plan to that end.”

“Although there has been an increase in the number of teachers teaching through the Welsh medium in recent years, and the number of secondary teachers who can teach through the Welsh medium has only just recovered after a recent fall meaning there has only been an increase of around 200 in the number of teachers since 2015 /16.

Fall in pupil numbers

The group is also concerned about the fall in the percentage of Year 1 school children who also receive Welsh education. It fell from 23.9% in 2021/22 to 23.4% in 2022/23. Although the fall is relatively small, Cymdeithas says that any fall should make the Government realise that a fundamental change is needed to the education system.

Toni Schiavone added: “The Government is determined to focus on the ambiguity between the number of Welsh speakers according to the Census and Annual Population Survey, they should take more notice of the fall in the number of Year 1 children following education Welsh and put concrete plans in place to grow Welsh education and realize that a fundamental change is needed to the education system in order to give Welsh education to all children.”

“There is an opportunity in the Education Act which will be published early next year. The Act’s white paper sets a goal that 50% of children receive Welsh language education by 2050 – depriving 50% of our children of the Welsh language is not much of an ambition. Why not set a goal that one hundred percent of our children receive a Welsh education?

Responding to the letter, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Between March and June 2023, we consulted on proposals that will form the basis of a Welsh Language Education Bill. The Bill will take steps to enable all pupils in Wales to become confident Welsh speakers through the statutory education system.

“We’re already investing £9.465m during 2023-24 on various programmes to grow and develop the Welsh language education workforce. This funding includes a £5,000 incentive for those studying to become Welsh-medium secondary school teachers, a £5,000 bursary to retain teachers and maintain our workforce, as well as a £6.3m investment in language and methodology training for practitioners.”

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Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
1 month ago

We need a referendum about Welsh language education so we can prove the massive support it has. This is vital in driving the cause onward.

1 month ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

Yes. Have been saying this for years. Push things forwards.

1 month ago

Newport has 7.5% Welsh Speakers, Blaenau Gwent 14.5%, Monmouthshire 17.3%, Torfaen 17.6%, and falling. I can’t see the support for this in those areas, never mind surmounting the practical issues of getting enough teachers and support staff for – forget 100%, even 50%.

1 month ago

Totally laudible aim. Need a mandate for it. Needs to be resourced. Also, it must be acknowledged that WM schools alone do not make Welsh speakers. Communities make Welsh speakers. We really need to strengthen our existing communities and build new ones. Education of course has its part to play but it needs a more holistic approach. We need more investment in media and arts.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

WG needs the ability to raise taxes to push Welsh language and culture. Taxing tourists and higher earners in Wales would be a start.

1 month ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

There’s already an education budget. You ought to be advised that putting forward an anti-Welsh language agenda in the guise of a pro-Welsh language agenda is fooling no-one.
1 month ago

Children in Wales go to school to be educated. There is a failure in Wales to understand that Welsh Medium Education is an educational not a Welsh Language issue. English speaking parents cannot be ignored.

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