The Welsh Government, as part of the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, has published a White Paper setting out proposals for a new Welsh Language Education Bill. The Bill will take steps to enable all pupils in Wales to become confident Welsh speakers through the statutory education system.
The White Paper sets out new proposals to achieve its ambitious goals for increasing the number of Welsh speakers, protecting our language, and increasing Welsh language provision in education.
The main proposals include:
- Reflecting the target of a million Welsh speakers in law;
- Creating a single Welsh language skills continuum to describe skill levels so that learners, teachers, parents and employers have a common understanding of the journey towards learning Welsh;
- Establishing a statutory system of categorising maintained schools according to language-medium;
- Over time, enhance Welsh language provision in maintained schools that are not already designated Welsh-medium schools;
- A requirement for the Welsh Ministers to create a statutory National Plan for the acquisition and learning of Welsh, and review it in each Senedd term;
- Reform how local authorities plan Welsh language provision in schools in order to meet targets set by the Welsh Ministers;
- Requirements on local authorities to proactively promote Welsh-medium education, including late immersion provision; and
- Providing specialist support for schools with Welsh language learning.
The paper also includes a commitment for the Welsh Government, through the Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru, to conduct a study with specialist input to consider a steeper trajectory for the growth of Welsh medium education for 2050 and beyond.
The proposals will mean an increase in the number of Welsh-medium schools and also an increase in the Welsh language provision in schools that aren’t already designated Welsh-medium schools. Along with this, school language categories will be on a statutory basis for the first time, giving a clear, accurate image of Welsh language provision in all maintained schools in Wales.
The National Plan created by the Welsh Ministers will give clear targets to each local authority for improving their Welsh language provision, including national targets for Welsh-medium teacher recruitment.
The Welsh Government is asking for views on this through a consultation which is open until 16 June 2023.
The Government has committed to introduce a Bill in this Senedd Term.
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said:
“We are committed to a future where everyone has the ability and the opportunity to use Welsh in their everyday lives. That’s why we are consulting on proposals to put our aims into law and to improve Welsh language skills in all schools.
“Cymraeg belongs to us all so it’s important that everyone has their say. Please answer the consultation and make your views heard.”
Plaid Cymru’s Designated Member, Cefin Campbell, said:
“Our long-held vision is that the education system is absolutely key in giving each child the gift of fluency in the Welsh language. Bilingualism and multilingualism are the norm across Europe; the proposals in the White Paper take us further towards ensuring that our education system delivers Welsh to all pupils in a way that creates confident speakers.
“I am pleased that we have been able to work together on those areas we have been able to find common ground on proposals that will bring about a significant shift in approach and to produce new principles for education in Wales.”