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Fears that ‘radical’ Welsh Language Education Bill will be abandoned

20 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Welsh medium education

Welsh language campaigners have warned that the Welsh Government could turn its back on a radical Welsh Education Bill due to a pattern of lack of commitment and a “lukewarm” attitude towards the Welsh language by the Cabinet Secretary for Education.

The Welsh Government is expected to introduce a Welsh Language Education Bill in the coming weeks that aims to radically increase Welsh-medium education provision, following the publication of Jeremy Miles’ response to a public consultation on a white paper for the Bill on 21 February.

Concerns

However, Cymdeithas yr Iaith are concerned that the proposed legislation will be weakened following lukewarm statements by Lynne Neagle, Cabinet Secretary for Education, towards the language and her reluctance to meet with the organisation, despite requests numerous since April.

Cabinet Secretary for Education, Lynne Neagle

On 21 March 2024, Lynne Neagle gave her first statement on the floor of the Senedd as the Cabinet Secretary for Education titled ‘Our national mission: delivering Welsh education priorities’.

According to member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, only one sentence in the entire 8 minute statement referred to the Welsh language, despite other aspects of education policy being discussed in depth.

A week earlier, in response to a question, on the Welsh Government’s plans to increase the provision of Welsh-medium education from Llyr Huws Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru MS, Lynne Neagle only referred to the responsibilities of local authorities.

“Once in a generation”

Toni Schiavone, Chair of the Cymdeithas yr Iaith Education Group, said: “The Welsh Government has a once in a generation opportunity to transform our education system and give the Welsh language to every child in Wales with the Welsh Language Education Bill.

“It is therefore very strange that the Cabinet Secretary for Education, who would be responsible for implementing the Bill, does not show any enthusiasm for it or even awareness of it.

“More broadly, it is unacceptable that she has only one tokenistic sentence to say about the Welsh language in a statement on her ‘priorities’ regarding education. The only possible conclusion is that the Welsh language is not a priority for her.”

Cymdeithas yr Iaith has also referred to the secretary’s reluctance to meet with them as a reason to be concerned about the future of the Bill.

Toni Schiavone added: “We sent our original request for a meeting with the secretary on 12 April this year, and although we have sent several other requests since then, we have not heard a single word from her.

“With such a lukewarm attitude towards the language in statements on the floor of the Senedd, and a lack of willingness to meet with us, there is reason to worry that the Welsh Government will turn its back on a radical Welsh Education Bill, as it has already done with other radical cornerstones of its vision in an attempt to please Keir Starmer’s London Labour Party at the expense of the people of Wales.”

Welsh Government response

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Far from being abandoned – the Welsh Language and Education Bill will be introduced, as planned, before the summer recess.

“Welsh Government Ministers have engaged regularly and extensively with Cymdeithas yr Iaith, both on this Bill and on other issues relating to the Welsh language.

“Welsh medium education and the provision of Welsh in education is a priority for this Government and a cornerstone of our ambitious target to achieve 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050.”


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Valley girl
Valley girl
24 days ago

Ms Neagle is in cahoots with VG and English Labour. Furthering Welsh school provision will be seen as a step towards independents which Starmer does not want.

Last edited 24 days ago by Valley girl
Richard E
Richard E
24 days ago

The Valley view of old Labour often was our language was “ fine for consenting adults and in privste “…..or as “ iaith y Saboth “ The likes of then MPs Jim Griifiths, John Morris , Cledwyn Hughes, Goronwy Roberts plus Elystan Morgan , Tudor Watkins and S O Davies was dispaire at this vein of hostility ,,.: These post colonial views have just gone underground. Delay, retrench, raise cost etc work far better. My own time on the WJEC was a revalation ! Anti Welsh comments from many of the boyo valley lads club ! Yet some great support… Read more »

Riki
Riki
24 days ago

Are we surprised? The fact they maintain their aim is for a million speakers but in reality do next to nothing to insure it speaks volumes. There should be a cap on how much English is shown on TV and in the wider entertainment and media arena, only then will we start seeing our people remember who we are and where we are from. Install a sense of pride in our people again! Yma O Hyd!

Cllr Pete Roberts
Cllr Pete Roberts
24 days ago

This lack of engagement is disappointing. I was honoured to have the Powys Welsh Language officer translate the announcement and my response to the Powys Proclamation on the Cymdeithas yr Iaith stand at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Meifod and thank them for accepting our invite to join us for discussion about how we could implement most of it over tea at our stand. I found their responses and willingness to be critical friends and allies as we move forward with Welsh Medium education in Powys to be a welcome contribution to a wider challenge of ensuring the long-term future of… Read more »

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