Council hasn’t shown ‘enough commitment’ to Welsh language, cabinet member admits
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
Powys County Council hasn’t shown “enough commitment” to the Welsh language, a cabinet member has admitted.
But Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies said a new plan from the council was an “opportunity” for that to change.
He made the comments in a meeting in which consultation on a draft document that will shape Welsh language education in Powys for years to come, was approved by councillors.
At their meeting on Tuesday, September 21, councillors on Powys County Council’s cabinet took the decision to allow residents to have their say on the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) which will shape education up to 2032.
Education consultant, Geraint Rees said that by then it is hoped that 36 per cent of Powys’ youngest children will be receiving their education in Welsh.
Cllr Elwyn Vaughan of Plaid Cymru, who chairs the Welsh in Education partnership which looked at the WESP, said: “Historically we have been seen and judged as being behind on the Welsh language, this is a chance to rectify the situation.
“It’s an important principle that the Welsh language is seen as belonging to every part of the county right up to the border.
“This document is an important contribution to the county, and I thank this council for getting to grips with this issue at long last.”
Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies, said: “This is a 10-year plan, it is a really significant moment, it talks about more opportunities and a greater continuity and key to all this will be the staff and their skills and for us to develop that capacity.
“Our residents have huge loyalty to their local schools; we must make it equally as easy to progress through the Welsh medium as it is through the English medium.
“In the past this council has not shown enough commitment to the Welsh language, this is an opportunity for that to change.
“I’m looking forward to what the consultation will bring.”
Education portfolio holder, Cllr Phyl Davies said: “This is visionary and a critical part of our education future in Powys.”
Cabinet voted unanimously to approve the document go out for an eight-week consultation and the results of that are expected to be discussed in the New Year.
After further discussion and approval by the council a copy needs to be sent to the Welsh Government by the end of January 2022.
If the Welsh Government approve the WESP it is expected to come into force, next September 2022.
The plan has seven outcomes that the council hope to achieve they are:
- More nursery children/ three-year-olds receive their education through the medium of Welsh
- More reception class children/ five-year-olds receive their education through the medium of Welsh
- More children to continue to improve their Welsh language skills when transferring from one stage of their statutory education to another.
- More pupils to study for assessed qualifications in Welsh (as a subject) and subjects through the medium of Welsh.
- An increase in the provision of Welsh-medium education for pupils with additional learning needs (ALN).
- Increase the number of teaching staff able to teach Welsh (as a subject) and teach through the medium of Welsh.
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