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Covid lockdown blamed for drop in Welsh education numbers

28 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Picture by the Welsh Government

Liam Randall, local democracy reporter

Covid lockdown measures have been blamed for a drop in the number of pupils entering Welsh medium education in Wrexham.

Figures released by Wrexham Council show that there were 181 youngsters in year one being taught in Welsh in 2022, representing 12.4 per cent of the overall pupils on the school roll in the county borough.

This was compared to 213 children (14.3 per cent) being taught in Welsh for the same age group during the previous year.

Education officials said the decrease was believed to be due to pupils from English-speaking families learning from home during the pandemic, meaning they could not use the Welsh language as often.

A report to councillors shows the number of youngsters in Wrexham going into Welsh medium education has now returned to similar levels to 2021.

The issue was raised by Acton and Maesydre councillor Corin Jarvis (Lab) at a meeting of the council’s lifelong learning scrutiny committee meeting as members discussed plans to develop Welsh-medium education.


In response, education officer Dafydd Ifans: “It was very impacted by Covid. One of the things that happened during Covid that particularly affected the Welsh sector was that some children were at home with their parents, who were English speaking.

“Some of them reported that they found it difficult to support their children during that time, and that then had a knock-on impact in terms of the numbers coming through into Welsh medium schools.

“A lot of hard work has happened since then, from members of the Welsh Education Forum, to encourage parents to make that choice and we’re seeing the fruits of that coming through.”

The Welsh Government’s has set out plans to increase the number of Welsh speakers to one million by 2050.

The council’s plan sets out how it intends to improve standards in Welsh-medium provision and the teaching of Welsh.

The impact of the Covid pandemic on the number of pupils entering Welsh medium education was also previously noted by education watchdog Estyn.

In a report covering the 2021/22 academic year, officials said: “Learners’ ability and readiness to use spoken Welsh was negatively impacted by long periods of non-contact with the language.

“In both Welsh and English-medium providers, many learners lacked confidence in speaking Welsh when they returned as their main contact with the language had always been through their educational provider.

“In secondary schools in particular there was a general decline in the use of Welsh between peers.

“Many Welsh-medium providers placed a strong emphasis on improving learners’ spoken Welsh, which had a positive impact.”

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22 days ago

The alternative was mass spreading the virus amongst families. Really a dire situation but we had no choice, we had a UK government that binned the response book that could have dealt with it in a better way and we had Conservatives at the helm.The worst party in my memory and probably the history of the UK, we had people like Johnson, Sunak, Hancock, Cummings in charge. Johnson wanted to let the elderly take it on the chin for his ego.

Morfudd ap Haul
Morfudd ap Haul
21 days ago

Westminster’s fault.

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