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Language campaigners call on Senedd to implement ‘single continuum’ of teaching Welsh

28 Jan 2021 3 minutes Read
Toni Schiavone

Language campaigners have called on Members of the Senedd to amend the Curriculum Bill to implement a single continuum of teaching Welsh.

The intention would be to remove a Welsh second language qualification and ensure that Welsh-medium education is eventually extended to include all schools and all children.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith said that this would mean that every child can leave our schools fully bilingual – but that the continuum is a way of recognizing that this cannot happen overnight and therefore offers a ‘road map’ for schools to achieve this aim over time.

Each school would start at different places on the continuum – Welsh-medium schools are already Welsh-medium schools while English-medium schools would begin right at the start of the continuum.

This amendment, according to Cymdeithas yr Iaith, would “give clear guidance to headteachers and teachers” and would represent “an important step forward towards the goal of Welsh-medium education for all”.

Toni Schiavone, chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group, said: “Members of the Senedd need to pass this amendment to the Curriculum Bill as it would provide clear guidance to headteachers and teachers for the purpose of developing a single programme of Welsh language teaching.”

‘Re-brand’

The Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee is set to debate amendments to the Curriculum Bill on Friday, including one amendment by the Member of the Senedd Siân Gwenllian on the code for implementing a single continuum of Welsh language teaching.

The code also supported by the Welsh Language Commissioner and the teachers’ union, UCAC.

According to Cymdeithas yr Iaith the amendment would require Welsh Ministers to issue a code “which sets out how a curriculum is to make provision for teaching Welsh on a single continuum”, and would mean that the “curriculum…[or]…teaching and learning does not encompass the mandatory element of Welsh unless it accords with the provision in the code.”

“The curriculum published by the Government does not ensure one path of teaching Welsh, and instead seems to be an attempt to re-brand second language Welsh. Adopting Sian Gwenllian’s amendment would rectify this and ensure that all children in Wales are able to leave school confident in their ability to communicate in Welsh,” Toni Schiavone said.

“The current situation, which deprives 80% of Wales’ children of the Welsh language, is not satisfactory. This is a golden opportunity for Kirsty Williams to cement her legacy as Education Minister and provide a generation of children with the gift of the Welsh language.

“Ensuring that every child is able to communicate bilingually would go a good way towards raising teaching standards in general in our country, as this would contribute towards strengthening various skills such as communication skills, problem-solving skills, creative skills as well as linguistic skills – however, this can only be done if we introduce Welsh-medium education for all.

“It is therefore essential that this amendment, which would represent an important step forward towards achieving the goal of Welsh-medium education for all and a million Welsh speakers by 2050, is adopted.”

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