‘Immersion centres’ for children entering Welsh language education late to be expanded across Wales
‘Immersion centres’ for children entering Welsh language education late will be expanded across Wales, the Education Minister has said.
Eight local authority areas will create their first Welsh language late immersion centres and all Welsh local authorities will receive additional funding to focus on establishing centres where there has previously been none, or to expand their provision to meet a growing demand.
Late immersion provision helps learners entering Welsh-medium education at a later stage – typically after the age of seven – and pupils for whom Welsh may not have been part of their daily routine, to gain the skills and confidence needed to continue their learning through Welsh.
This £2.2m investment will also support learners who may have missed out on vital learning time or lost some of their language capability during the pandemic, the Education Minister added.
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said: “The Welsh language belongs to us all, and I’m committed to providing the support needed to achieve the goals in our ‘Cymraeg 2050’ strategy and to help more of us to learn and use our language.
“The applications we received from local authorities across Wales for late immersion support showed true enthusiasm for expanding this programme. I’m delighted to see that there is a real commitment right across the country to support our learners to enter Welsh medium education, even if that is at a later entry point, and help them to develop bilingual skills for life.”
The eight local authority areas where new late immersion provision will be created are Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Torfaen, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Powys, and the Vale of Glamorgan.
All parts of Wales will receive funding, which includes expanding existing late immersion programmes and some additional support for late immersion in Welsh language schools as a result of the pandemic.
Expanding the pupil immersion programme was a Labour manifesto commitment at the Senedd election. They hope it will contribute towards the aim of reaching one million Welsh speakers by 2050, and increasing the daily use of our language.
The Welsh Government said that the education system plays a key part in creating new Welsh speakers.
At the start of this month children in Powys began a seven-week “intense immersion course” known as ‘Meistri Maldwyn’ for the first time.
Powys Council said that the immersion course “is the first step in developing Welsh-medium education immersion provision in Powys and will be an important provision as the council looks to build a bilingual future for Powys and its young people”.