Cymdeithas yr Iaith concerned over lack of progress in Welsh medium education
Cymdeithas yr Iaith has expressed concerns about the lack of progress in Welsh medium education, calling for a “fundamental change of attitude” from Welsh Government.
Their open letter has been issued in advance of the Welsh Language Education Act’s introduction in the new year.
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.”
Call for investment
According to the campaign group, the current recruitment levels are nowhere near the scale required in order to reach the Government’s own targets.
Mr Schiavone said: ”The Government’s solution is to offer an equivalent grant of £800,000 to be shared between Welsh schools for teacher training schemes, lowering the level of grades required to teach through the medium of Welsh, funding twenty places for primary teachers who want to become secondary teachers, and similar piecemeal steps. When presenting his annual report, Jeremy Miles said several times that his wish is that people leave the school knowing the Welsh language confidently. Welsh-medium education is the only way to do that, so significant investment is needed to ensure that there are enough teachers who can teach through Welsh.”
Cymdeithas yr Iaith is calling for an investment of £10 Million per year for 5 years in order to fund training plans for the education workforce and to add a year to teacher training for learning the Welsh language.
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 this year, 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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