Plaid Cymru criticise decision not to abolish Welsh second language qualification
Plaid Cymru have criticised the decision not to abolish Welsh as a second language qualification.
The Welsh nationalist party’s spokesperson on Children and Young People, and the Welsh language, Heledd Fychan MS, argued that the current education system “does not allow equal access” to learn the language “for all”.
She criticised Qualifications Wales, and said that changes it announced yesterday to Welsh language qualifications “raises major questions” about its “role and purpose”.
Qualifications Wales say the changes will help more learners become confident Welsh speakers.
Under the changes Welsh Language and Welsh Literature will be combined into one GCSE for pupils in Welsh-medium and bilingual schools.
GCSE Welsh Second Language will be discontinued, and a new GCSE in Welsh will be created for learners in English-medium settings.
A new additional qualification for pupils in English-medium settings who are ready to progress further in their Welsh language skills.
Heledd Fychan said: “This decision is contrary to the demands of campaigners and the clear evidence for years that the current system does not allow equal access for all to the Welsh language. It raises major questions about the role and purpose of Qualifications Wales as a body.
“The great danger is that what is happening is the rebranding of Welsh second language, rather than the much-needed step forward in order to meet the Government’s ambitious targets of creating a million, and more, speakers of the language.
“The existence of the second language qualification and the creation of a single Language continuum create dangers in itself in terms of lack of continuity between primary and secondary schools, particularly in a number of counties in the west of the country.
“We want to work together across the parties for the benefit of the people of Wales and their communities, but a decision like this from an unelected body undermines those efforts.
“Although the decisions by Qualifications Wales is the result of a process initiated prior to the Co-Operation Agreement, it is clear that the route will have to be changed if we can reach cross-party agreement on the content of a Welsh Education Bill.”
‘Encourage all learners’
Emyr George, Director of Qualifications Policy and Reform, at Qualifications Wales, said, “This new set of qualifications will encourage all learners to be confident users of the Welsh language, regardless of which type of school they attend, and will help achieve the aims of the Welsh Government’s ‘Cymraeg 2050’ language strategy.
“Eventually, we want to see one overarching Cymraeg qualification for all learners in all settings, but we are not there yet because learners have varying levels of exposure to the language.
“The qualifications will give all learners a fair and equal opportunity to achieve in Cymraeg. They reflect the different sets of expectations for English-medium and Welsh-medium schools, as outlined in the new Curriculum for Wales, while also allowing those learners in English-medium schools who are ready to progress further and more quickly along the Welsh language continuum.
“We have worked closely with teachers, subject experts and the Welsh Government over recent months to ensure this offer best meets the needs of learners to have the skills and confidence to use Welsh in their learning, work, and everyday lives.”
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said: “Welsh Language qualifications should support all learners on their Welsh Language journey and provide a route towards a shared goal. I welcome the new Welsh language qualifications, which remove the concept of Welsh being a second language and will reward the hard work of those studying Welsh across the whole spectrum of Welsh language experience and ability.
“I have been clear that changes to qualifications must be radical and ambitious and support the new Curriculum, as we move to a continuum for Welsh learning, from those with little or no language experience, right through to those working towards proficiency.”
“There is a real opportunity to work with Qualifications Wales to help shape these new qualifications and I encourage everyone with an interest to engage with the process over the coming months.”
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