Welsh classes seen as ‘a waste of time’ at Monmouthshire school
Twm Owen, local democracy reporter
Welsh language classes are seen as a “waste of time” at a border secondary school with a “large number” of pupils from England, it has been claimed.
The comments have been made as a plan to boost Welsh language use, and skills, in Monmouthshire has been discussed.
To do so will require improvement in how the language is taught in the county’s four secondary schools, which are all English medium – and it must appeal to those pupils, said Cllr Ian Chandler.
The Green Party councillor said he is a father of three children at Monmouth Comprehensive and said: “A lot of the children in Monmouth Comprehensive come from England so there is a culture that pervades, even to children that actually live in Wales, that actually the Welsh classes they have are a bit of a waste of time and there’s a fair bit of resistance to it.”
The Llantilio Crossenny member asked: “How are we trying to inculcate in our children the desire to speak Welsh and improve the quality of provision that is being given that is, dare I say, patchy in terms of how it’s delivered?”
Sharon Randall-Smith, the head of Monmouthshire County Council’s children and young people’s directorate, said it has sought to promote the benefits of bilingualism as it will help pupils learn a third language, and said: “I don’t think we’ve done enough on that in the past.”
The council is also producing publicity material aimed at parents, to promote the benefits of learning Welsh and is working with secondary schools to “help pupils understand the value of the language to them” and how it can boost employment prospects in Wales.
Cllr Chandler said he wanted to know how the council would track the appeal of Welsh to pupils, and said many may not yet be thinking about careers, and asked: “How are we being informed by our consumers of Welsh education?”
Cllr Peter Strong, a retired teacher, said he agreed Welsh needs to be “seen as meaningful” but feared the benefits outlined were more likely to appeal to pupils of “above average attainment”.
The Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) – which guides provision in the county and work to support the Welsh Government’s aim of one million speakers by 2050 – includes a goal of increasing the opportunity for pupils to use Welsh.
Ms Randall-Smith said there is currently one Welsh medium youth club in the county, and the plan considers what other opportunities pupils want and which could “inspire them” to use Welsh.
She also said she wants children “to learn to love to speak Welsh” as all pupils in schools in Monmouthshire learn the language, and she said there is a benefit to that.
The officer said: “One of our ambitions would be to keep more of our pupils in Monmouthshire when they start work and set up their families and without Welsh language skills they will find that more difficult to do.”
Cllr Martyn Groucutt, the cabinet member for education, said the new curriculum for Wales will “for the first time” mean Wales has a “radically different” approach to education than England, and he hoped parents in Gloucestershire would see the attraction of that and continue sending their children over the border.
Future provision of Welsh medium education in the county was also raised at the scrutiny committee. A seedling Welsh medium primary, initially with one class, will open in Monmouth in September, but at present there are no Welsh medium secondary schools in the county.
Instead pupils have to travel to Newport and Pontypool to continue their education through Welsh after 11.
The committee was told the council continues to monitor numbers to ensure there are sufficient places for Monmouthshire children, and there are no concerns before 2028, while it is also in discussion with other neighbouring councils over potential future provision.
Cllr Groucutt said there could be demand in Abergavenny, in the north of the county, as well as Crickhowell in Powys and the valleys of Blaenau Gwent, but warned establishing a secondary school is “complex”.
Chepstow councillor Sue Riley said her daughter had attended Ysgol Gwynllyw, in Pontypool, but that is currently in special measures, which she said could be a “deterrent” to parents considering Welsh medium education.
The committee said it supported the council’s Welsh in Education Strategic Plan for 2022/23 which will now be submitted to the Welsh Government.
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Without checking, I’m almost certain that there is scientific confirmation that if you speak more than one language, it makes it easier to learn others. It seems to make sense as it makes the brain more agile rather than being stuck on one track all the time.
As someone whose been bilingual in Welsh and English from a very early age, and have since then learned some French, German and Latin, I definitely found that a grounding in two languages made it easier for me to understand language patterns and hence facilitate my learning of other languages. In particular the fact that Welsh, like French and German has masculine and feminine nouns whilst English has not.
Indeed. When you know other languages (bits in my case) you do notice and think about the structures within them.
Stop the teaching of English as a first language. Wales is for the Welsh and whoever wants to be a part of this glorious nation. Every person in our country should be given the opportunity and privelidge to be raised in Welsh.
Exactly how my kids was taught it at primary. Went in non speaking, soon bilingual. Its what teaching is about after all.
And mine. My wife and myself speak very little Welsh and yet our child is bilingual (if anything he is better at Welsh than English). So perhaps Pary Isaac Jones would like to explain that.
Typical little englander mentality from someone with your name
Yes, learning languages develops the part of the brain that is responsible for languages, making it easier to learn other languages later.
The more languages you learn and the earlier you learn them (especially up to the age of six) the more pronounced these benefits are.
If they’re English, then they could always go to a school in England if they think Cymraeg in Cymru is a waste of time.
What is they don’t want to speak Welsh and they are not English?
Then they can clad the kids in Kevlar body armour and send them up to Five Acres High School.
Probably be the first parents in recorded history to send innocent young people into the Forest to get educated…. or mugged as it is known in Coleford.
Most people in Monmouthshire would prefer if the Wales/England border was on the west side of their county. Not a Welsh patriot between the whole lot of them.
A view fron the past my friend. Suggest you visit Y Fenni – so proud of their heritage
I recently traveed back from Newcastle to north east Wales on a very early train. Few passangers and no facilites ! However i got chatting with a young guy in his late 20s from Sunderland area who when he heard i was Welsh – turned to Welsh ! He had been at school in Pontypool for just a few years and was 80 per cent fluent and so keen ! An example to us all i tjink and a reminder of the parable of the sower ! Lets reap the harvrst in eastern Gwent – a bit of leadership from… Read more »
Well if they truly feel that way, I’d welcome their Decision to succeed from Wales and join their beloved England.
Typical little englander view from monmouthshire councillor why is he living in wakes with such s negative view of the welsh language .this is typical if some monmouthshire councillors who would no doubt like monmouth to be in little england if this councillor isn’t happy just move to england .
The problem is Welsh isn’t taught to our children from day one. Welsh Labour are to blame seeing they control our education system. The Welsh Government claim they want a million Welsh speakers by 2050 but seeing their recent anti-Welsh rhetoric merely BritNat bluster. Look, we even First Minister Mark Drakeford lamely claim how making all schools in Wales Welsh medium would be divisive? So according to Mark Drakeford countries who teach their own native language first are devisive therefore lack inclusivity? Oh so are these the same multilingual countries that have a higher standard of education & living than… Read more »
When children from Ukraine can learn sufficient Welsh to be able to be able to live a full life in Cymru in a matter of weeks
One can only ask what is wrong with some people
Monmouthshire is in Wales, not England, so it’s should absolutely be teaching the Welsh native language. If they don’t want to learn, then go to a school in England instead.
Well this is bizarre. The header says there are 20 comments but in fact only 16 are visible. The one I posted which asked about evidence that promoting bilingualism enables children to learn a third language has disappeared, along presumably with four others.
I’m reluctant to financially support a website that arbitrarily disappears my comments.
I note this too. You were the first in on this and I was the first reply. Two others have gone too and I don’t recall anything contentious in those early posts which would require them to be deleted. Strange.