The Welsh Government has today published its plans to change regulations about how local authorities plan Welsh-medium education in their areas.
Under the regulations, open to consultation from today, local authorities will set their own targets to increase the number of school learners given the opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills in school and to use the language in their everyday lives. These targets will be agreed with the Welsh Government and are aimed at achieving the long-term goal of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
Welsh in Education Strategic Plans, or ‘WESPs’, are the statutory framework for local Welsh-medium education planning. The changes follow recommendations from the Rapid Review of Welsh in Education Strategic Plans. Under the proposals, the duration of WESPs will also increase from a three to a 10-year cycle.
The Welsh Government’s new draft school Curriculum will include Welsh being taught through a single continuum and the phasing out of Welsh as a ‘second language’.
The Cymraeg 2050 strategy emphasises the role Welsh-medium education has in creating more Welsh speakers. The strategy aims to increase the number of Welsh speakers to one million and the percentage who speak Welsh daily to 20 per cent by 2050.
The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, said:
“The Rapid Review acknowledged the need for change to individual local authority plans and the need to strengthen the legislation framework. These amendments will implement the recommendations through a more robust and accountable planning process with outcomes clearly linked to the aims of Cymraeg 2050.
“Every local authority in Wales is unique, but they all have an equally important role in widening the provision of Welsh-medium education and we’re committed to working with our local authorities to develop their provision.
“These changes are important if we are to realise our vision in the new curriculum of ensuring all learners leave school being at least bilingual.”
Eluned Morgan, Minister for International Relations and Welsh Language, said:
“Cymraeg 2050 sets out our plans and expectations for strengthening and securing the future of the Welsh language, including a statutory education system which increases the number of confident Welsh speakers.
“To achieve this goal, we must greatly increase the number of pupils given the opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills in school and in their everyday lives.
“The amended regulations will improve Welsh-medium Education Planning and I encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation.”
Dr Dylan Foster Evans, Head of the School of Welsh at Cardiff University and chair of the independent Advisory Board on the Welsh in Education Strategic Plans, said:
“I’m pleased to see that a large number of the Board's recommendations have been incorporated into the draft regulations and guidance. As a Board, our priority has been to strengthen the Welsh-language education planning framework through the WESPs, within the current legislation. I am confident that the proposed changes can lead to more purposeful, strategic and ambitious planning by local authorities and support the Government's long term vision for a million Welsh speakers by 2050.”
The consultation will be open until 2 September 2019.