Opinion

Achieving the government’s goal of a million Welsh speakers by 2050 will require a much bolder strategy

02 Mar 2021 8 minutes Read
Welsh language commissioner Aled Roberts. Photo National Assembly for Wales Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

*English follows below*

Aled Roberts, Comisiynydd y Gymraeg

Does dim amheuaeth ynghylch pwysigrwydd y sector addysg fel un o brif lwybrau creu siaradwyr Cymraeg newydd. Bydd cyflawni’r nod o gyrraedd miliwn o siaradwyr erbyn 2050 yn gofyn am gynllunio strategol ar draws y gyfundrefn addysg; o’r sector gofal plant ac addysg blynyddoedd cynnar, i’r gyfundrefn addysg statudol, ac yna’r sectorau addysg ôl-orfodol ac uwch. Canolbwyntio ar y dilyniant ieithyddol hwn sy’n hollbwysig er mwyn creu siaradwyr Cymraeg hyderus sy’n debygol o ddefnyddio’r iaith.

Er y bydd cyflawni’r weledigaeth hon yn gofyn am ystod o ymyraethau ar draws meysydd polisi addysg, efallai mai’r brif her fydd sicrhau y bydd gennym weithlu addysg cynyddol ddwyieithog. Os oes disgwyl i nifer gynyddol o ddisgyblion Cymru adael y gyfundrefn addysg yn siaradwyr Cymraeg hyderus, yna mae’n anorfod y bydd rhaid yn gyntaf sicrhau cynnydd sylweddol yn nifer y gofalwyr, athrawon, cymhorthyddion a darlithwyr sy’n gallu trosglwyddo ac addysgu’r iaith i’r disgyblion.

Efallai bod gwerth ystyried anferthedd y dasg sy’n ein hwynebu drwy graffu ar y sector addysg statudol yn benodol. Mae strategaeth Cymraeg 2050 Llywodraeth Cymru yn gosod targed i ehangu’r nifer sy’n mynychu addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg o 22% (2017) i 40% erbyn 2050. Mae hefyd yn rhagamcanu cynydd sylweddol yn nifer y disgyblion fydd yn gadael y gyfundrefn addysg cyfrwng Saesneg yn siaradwyr Cymraeg hyderus (50% erbyn 2050). Er mwyn cyflawni’r targedau hyn mae’r Llywodraeth yn cynllunio ar gyfer dyblu nifer yr athrawon sy’n gallu addysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg erbyn 2050.

Mae’r her o sicrhau’r fath gynnydd yn dod i’r amlwg wrth ystyried ystadegau diweddar ynghylch hyfforddi athrawon yng Nghymru. Mae data diweddaraf am nifer myfyrwyr Addysg Gychwynnol Athrawon (AGA) sy’n hyfforddi i addysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg ar ei isaf ers i’r cofnod gychwyn yn 2010/11. Mae’r 170 o fyfyrwyr blwyddyn gyntaf sy’n hyfforddi i addysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg yn 2018/19 bron i hanner y nifer oedd yn hyfforddi yn 2013/14 (320 o fyfyrwyr).

Er bod y gostyngiad hwn yn adlewyrchu cwymp cyffredinol yn nifer y myfyrwyr sy’n astudio cyrsiau AGA yng Nghymru, mae’n destun pryder bod tueddiadau’r ddeng mlynedd diwethaf o ran athrawon sy’n gallu gweithio drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg wedi bod yn mynd i’r cyfeiriad anghywir. Mae’r heriau sydd wedi codi i’r sector addysg yn sgil y pandemig Covid yn debyg o ddwysáu’r angen cyffredinol am fwy o athrawon a chymorthyddion i gefnogi disgyblion. Bydd hyn yn arbennig o wir yng nghyd-destun yr angen am athrawon a chymorthyddion sy’n gallu gweithio drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, ac yn gallu cefnogi datblygiad sgiliau Cymraeg disgyblion.

Radical

Fel y gwnaethom amlinellu mewn manylder yn ein nodyn briffio ar y Gymraeg a’r gweithlu addysg, mae angen strategaeth lawer mwy beiddgar a phellgyrhaeddol ar gyfer y gweithlu addysg yng Nghymru. Tra bydd angen i strategaeth o’r fath ystyried ffyrdd newydd o gymell mwy o unigolion sy’n gallu siarad Cymraeg i hyfforddi fel athrawon, mae’n amlwg bod angen i’r broses hyfforddi a datblygu proffesiynol athrawon roi llawer mwy o bwys ar allu a datblygiad ieithyddol athrawon. Ar lefel genedlaethol mae angen datblygu fframwaith AGA aml-haenog sy’n cynnig ymyraethau penodol ar gyfer gwella sgiliau Cymraeg pob athro dan hyfforddiant.

Yn ogystal ag atgyfnerthu a chryfhau sgiliau Cymraeg hyfforddeion rhugl a darparu sgiliau sylfaenol i’r rhai sydd ag ychydig iawn o allu yn y Gymraeg, mae angen talu sylw penodol i’r hyfforddeion hynny sydd yn gallu siarad Cymraeg, ond sy’n ddi-hyder i addysgu drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. I mewn i’r fframwaith cenedlaethol hwn mae angen adeiladu cynllun hir dymor ar gyfer codi disgwyliadau yn raddol o safbwynt y Gymraeg mewn AGA ac o fewn rhaglen dysgu broffesiynol i athrawon.

Mae’r ystyriaethau uchod am y sector addysg statudol yn amlygu pwynt mwy cyffredinol am strategaeth iaith y Llywodraeth: os ydym am lwyddo i wireddu’r weledigaeth o gyrraedd miliwn o siaradwyr mae’n anorfod bod angen cyflwyno ymyraethau radical i’r ffordd rydym yn cynllunio’r gweithlu addysg yng Nghymru. Heb ymyrraeth sylweddol, mae perygl y gwelwn ni gylch diddiwedd lle bydd prinder gofalwyr, athrawon, cymhorthyddion a darlithwyr cyfrwng Cymraeg yn rhwystr parhaus rhag sicrhau cynydd yn nifer yr unigolion sy’n ymadael â’r ysgol yn medru siarad  a defnyddio’r Gymraeg.

Mae angen adeiladu ar y seiliau sydd eisoes mewn lle, a datblygu strategaeth llawer fwy cynhwysfawr, beiddgar a manwl. Mae’n bryd cael strategaeth gweithlu addysg i Gymru sy’n adlewyrchu gweledigaeth y Llywodraeth dros yr iaith Gymraeg.

Mae’r alwad hon am strategaeth gweithlu addysg yn un o argymhellion maniffesto Comisiynydd y Gymraeg ar gyfer etholiad y senedd. Cliciwch yma i weld yr holl argymhellion.


Picture by Adran Pingstone. Public domain.

Aled Roberts, Welsh Language Commissioner

There is no doubt that education is one of the main routes for creating new Welsh speakers. Achieving the goal of a million Welsh speakers by 2050 requires strategic planning for the sector: from childcare and early years, to statutory education, and then on to the post-16 and higher education sectors. Focusing on this linguistic progression is crucial to create confident Welsh speakers who are likely to use the language in their everyday lives.

Whilst achieving this vision requires a range of interventions across education policy areas, it is likely that the main challenge is ensuring an adequate bilingual education workforce. If we want to see an increasing number of pupils in Wales leaving education as confident Welsh speakers, then we must first see a significant increase in the number of carers, teachers, teaching assistants and lecturers who can transfer and teach the language to the pupils and students.

Perhaps it is worth considering the huge scale of the task ahead by concentrating specifically on the statutory education sector. The Welsh Government’s Cymraeg 2050 strategy sets a target to increase the proportion of pupils receiving Welsh-medium education from 22% in 2017 to 40% by 2050. It also projects a significant increase in the number of pupils leaving the English-medium education system as confident Welsh speakers (50% by 2050). To achieve these targets the Government is planning to double the number of teachers able to teach through the medium of Welsh by 2050.

Recent statistics on teacher training in Wales show the enormity of the challenge if we are to achieve these targets. The latest data on the number of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) students training to teach through the medium of Welsh is at its lowest since records began in 2010-11. The 170 first year students training to teach through the medium of Welsh in 2018-19 were almost half the number training in 2013-14 (320 students).

While this decline reflects an overall decrease in the number of students studying ITE courses in Wales, it is worrying that the trend of the last ten years in teachers able to work through the medium of Welsh has been going in the wrong direction. The challenges facing the education sector because of the Covid pandemic are likely to lead to a greater demand for teachers and teaching assistants to support pupils. This will be particularly true in terms of the demand for teachers and assistants who can work through the medium of Welsh, and who can support the development of pupils’ Welsh-language skills.

Bold

As my report on the Welsh language and the education workforce (2020) outlined, we need a much bolder and far-reaching strategy for the education workforce in Wales. While such a strategy will need to consider new ways of motivating more Welsh speakers to train as teachers, the teacher training and professional development process needs to give much more emphasis on teachers’ linguistic ability and development.

At a national level there is a need to develop a multi-tiered ITE framework that offers specific interventions for improving the Welsh language skills of all trainee teachers. As well as reinforcing and strengthening the Welsh language skills of fluent trainees and providing basic skills for those with very little knowledge of Welsh, particular attention needs to be paid to those trainees who can speak Welsh, but who lack confidence to teach through the medium of the language. This national framework should include a long-term plan for gradually raising expectations in terms of the Welsh language in ITE and within professional learning programmes for teachers.

These considerations highlight a more general point about the Government’s Welsh language strategy: if we are to succeed in realising the vision of a million Welsh speakers, then radical interventions need to be introduced into the way we plan the education workforce in Wales. Without significant intervention, there is a danger that we will see an endless cycle where a shortage of Welsh-medium carers, teachers,  assistants and lecturers will be a continuing barrier to ensuring an increase in the number of individuals leaving school able to speak and use Welsh.

We need to build on the foundations already in place, and develop a much more comprehensive, bold and detailed strategy. It is time for an education workforce strategy for Wales which reflects the Government’s vision for the Welsh language.

This call for an education workforce strategy is one of the Welsh Language Commissioner’s Senedd 2021 Manifesto recommendations. Click here to see all of his recommendations.

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