‘Radical increase in Welsh language teachers’ needed to reach million speakers target

Picture by the Welsh Government

The Welsh Language Commissioner has called for a “significant intervention” by the Welsh Government to reach their target for the number of teachers able to educate children through the medium of Welsh.

A report by the commissioner released today shows that there has been a fall in the number of newly qualified teachers who can speak Welsh or who can work through the medium of Welsh in the last five years.

According to the Commissioner, the education sector has a key role to play if the Welsh Government is to reach one million speakers by 2050.

The Welsh Government target includes increasing the proportion of children receiving Welsh-medium education to 40% by 2050.

They also aim to increase the number who can speak Welsh after attending English-medium or bilingual schools to 50% by 2050.

In order to achieve this, they have set a target to increase the number of teachers that can teach through the medium of Welsh or learn the language as a subject to 9,400 by 2050.

 

‘Worrying’

But according to the Welsh Language Commissioner, Aled Roberts, “In order to be close to meeting the targets set by the Government in the education sector, we need a radical increase in the number of teachers in Wales able to teach through the medium of Welsh.”

The report shows that there has been a decrease of 23% in newly qualified teachers able to speak Welsh and a fall of 27% in those able to work through the medium of Welsh.

“The number of students following Initial Teacher Education (ITE) courses is at its lowest since records began in 2010/11 and the total number of first year students training to teach through the medium of Welsh in 2018/19 is nearly half the number that trained in 2013/14,” Aled Roberts said.

“This decline is worrying for us, as is the fact that a significant number of teachers who are fluent or fairly fluent in Welsh do not teach through the medium of Welsh.

“The targets set for teachers in the Cymraeg 2050 are challenging, and to realize them, the trends of the last decade must be reversed.”

‘Encouraging’

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said recruiting Welsh teachers was a priority for them.

“We provide significant financial incentives to attract Welsh teachers through our Tomorrow’s Teachers’ language scheme, which complements our targeted marketing campaigns to attract new Welsh teachers.

“We are also taking a number of innovative approaches, including our new program for Welsh-medium primary teachers who want to teach in secondary schools.

“The latest UCAS figures show a 19% increase in student applications to train to become secondary school teachers, which is encouraging, as we would then expect to see an increase in the number of people training to become teachers who will be able to teach through the medium of Welsh. ”

The Welsh Language Commissioner will hold a online discussion as part of the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol’s online programme at 11am, 6 August entitled ‘Will we reach the million?’

Joining the Welsh Language Commissioner, Aled Roberts will be Ioan Matthews (Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol), Dilwyn Roberts-Young (UCAC) and Gwawr Maelor (Bangor University). Simultaneous translation will be available.

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