Kirsty Williams AM, Cabinet Secretary for Education
The benefits of learning another language are manifold and the study of modern foreign languages remains an important aspect of the Education system in Wales. Not only does it equip our young people with additional linguistic skills, but it provides them with a cultural education and knowledge that they would otherwise not experience.
In October 2015 the Welsh Government published Global Futures: A plan to improve and promote modern foreign languages in Wales 2015 – 2020.
This plan was our response to the decline over the last 10 years in the take-up of modern foreign languages in Wales and, together with our key partners across the sector, sets out our aims and strategy to address this issue. It also sets out how the plan and the objectives that underpin it support the development of the new Area of Learning and Experience for ‘Language, Literacy and Communication’, as part of the Curriculum reform programme.
Since becoming Cabinet Secretary for Education, I have supported this vision for languages in Wales. We have collaborated with our key partners, including; the four regional education consortia, language institutes, universities in Wales, Estyn, the British Council, the Open University, Confucius Institutes, BBC Wales, Routes into Languages Cymru, and the teaching profession, to drive forward our agenda of reversing the decline of languages and achieving our aims under three strategic objectives.
- To promote and raise the profile of modern foreign languages as an important subject which can lead to exciting and valued career opportunities;
- To build capacity and support for the professional development of the education workforce to deliver modern foreign languages effectively from year 5 onwards, enabling all learners to benefit from the ‘bilingualplus 1’ strategy via: Professional Development for the education workforce, review of ITET and pioneer schools network;
- To provide enhanced learning opportunities to engage and excite learners.
Today, I am publishing a report into the first year of the plan which measures progress, highlights our key achievements to date, and sets out the next steps. Working with partners from across the sector, a number of key actions have been implemented to support our vision. I am pleased with how these have been delivered and at the response from schools and from within the sector. However, the impact these initiatives have on our learners is the crucial test. The recent GCSE and A level results show that we still have a long way to go; however, the report clearly shows that the foundations are being laid to ensure that we will see an upturn in the take-up of modern foreign languages in years to come.
Particular highlights from the first year include:
- the development of new language resources for schools, which were centred around the success of the Welsh football team in the Euros;
- the setting up of school ‘Centres of Excellence’ in all four regional education consortia;
- the student mentoring scheme being delivered by Welsh Universities,
- an education Memorandum of Understanding with the Spanish Government, which again shows our commitment to improve uptake of MFL subjects.
Copies of the Global Futures plan and the annual report can be found by clicking on the following link: