Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education
I offer Members an update on progress on the availability of Welsh-medium textbooks to support reformed qualifications.
Recognising concerns that have been expressed regarding the availability of Welsh-medium textbooks, my officials have worked with WJEC to look at the best solution in addressing the issue in the short term.
I am pleased to say that this has resulted in new working practices which have helped to reduce the difference in timescales between the availability of textbooks in English and Welsh.
Positive, creative steps have been taken to improve the situation, such as making draft versions of the textbooks available on the WJEC’s secure website before free copies of printed versions are distributed to schools. This ensures that the content is available at a much earlier date for teachers and learners. New digital resources are also being developed, and current resources are being revised to fill any gaps and are available on WJEC’s website.
This week Qualifications Wales will inform all schools of the qualifications being introduced in 2017 and will provide information about the available and planned support for these qualifications.
However, I am clear that this is merely a temporary solution for the current reform of qualifications. As I have previously stated I am dissatisfied with the current situation and I do not expect Welsh-medium learners to be disadvantaged in any way. We need to find a long term solution for this issue. We also need to plan for the future requirements of the new curriculum - in both Welsh and English.
I announced on 30 November my intention to hold a summit to look at ways in which we can address this issue. This summit will take place on 26 April.
I am keen to hear what the education and creative sectors within Wales itself can do to address this failure in the market. We will bring together relevant stakeholders to explore the ways forward for future resource production, in both Welsh and English, for the reformed curriculum and qualifications.
Developing a new curriculum, made in Wales, provides opportunities for us to work together, to share our expertise and experiences and look at innovative ways of providing resources to support our teachers and learners. I also want to ensure that parents and learners in Wales are better served by the provision of relevant learning resources on the high-street. I expect book retailers to work with the Welsh Government, WJEC and publishers in addressing this issue.
Initial discussions held with the publishing sector have been promising and they are ready to embrace the challenge of ensuring that timely and appropriate educational resources, in Welsh and English, are available to meet the needs of our new curriculum and future qualifications.
I plan to make a further statement on the issue following the summit.