Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales
Following Y Gynhadledd Fawr last summer, I made a statement (12 November) outlining early actions to address the challenges identified. Our strategy A living language: a language for living continues to underpin and drive our approach and some important progress has been made. The challenges are critical and there is no case for slowing the pace. Although I plan to make a full policy statement in the spring it is timely to offer Members an update on progress now.
The first set of draft standards under the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 were published on 6 January. The Welsh Language Commissioner has begun an investigation into the standards with county councils, national park authorities and the Welsh Government. We in government are already reviewing our procedures to strengthen the use of Welsh across the organisation, and we are examining, too, how to measure the impact of policy and financial decisions on the Welsh language.
Appointment regulations are now in place for the Welsh Language Tribunal, and we have begun the process of appointing the President. The Tribunal will be in place by the end of the year and I see this as a significant part of the institutional architecture surrounding the Welsh language.
Education has played a significant part in promoting the Welsh language and in creating new Welsh speakers. It continues to be vital to the language’s future. The School Standards Act (Wales) 2013 placed the Welsh in Education Strategic Plans onto a statutory footing, and the related regulations now require local authorities, in particular circumstances, to measure the demand for Welsh-medium education. In parallel we have also launched an awareness campaign to remind parents that they can choose Welsh-medium education for their children in every part of Wales.
In planning, we have revised Technical Advice Note (TAN) 20, and guidelines are being developed to help planning authorities to assess the impact of proposals on the Welsh language. The guidelines will be published in the spring.
A number of important reviews have concluded their work in recent months:
- Mentrau Iaith, Language Action Plans and Welsh Language Promotion Scheme in Aman Tawe was published last week – and the Welsh Government will respond in due course.
- We have recently announced an extra £90,000 for the National Eisteddfod this year to help with implementation of recommendations made by the Eisteddfod Task and Finish Group which reported in October.
- We have accepted the recommendations of the independent group which reviewed the Welsh for Adults provision. We have already started implementing those changes.
- We have received the report on Welsh Language Communities, which aims to increase the number of communities where Welsh is the main language, and are considering our response.
- An independent group, chaired by Professor Sioned Davies, has reviewed the provision of Welsh as a Second Language at Key Stages 3 and 4. The recommendations of the report One Language for All will be fed into a wider review of the curriculum.
- The Welsh Language and Economy Group will report shortly.
All of these reports serve to add depth to the picture gathered at Y Gynhadledd Fawr. Naturally, I believe that action, not words, will drive forward the agenda but it is important that we move policy ahead on a basis of sound research and clear-sighted understanding of the real challenges. Otherwise, we risk incoherence and lack of direction in our work.
I have already emphasised the vital importance of education. Since 2009 we have invested around £135 million to deliver 17 major projects for Welsh medium school buildings. In addition, through the Twenty-First Century Schools Programme we aim to deliver approximately 25 projects in Welsh medium schools over the next 5 to 6 years. We have also invested capital funding towards new accommodation at the Urdd camp in Llangrannog.
I can confirm today £3.5m grant funding for promoting the Welsh language in the year 2014-15. Thirty-six organisations from the voluntary sector will benefit directly from this fund, details are attached.
Our challenge is to promote the use of Welsh in every day life across the whole of Wales, and everything the Welsh Government does is directed towards that aim. The issues remain serious, but there is also much to celebrate. A recent report from the Council of Europe recognises the Welsh Government's commitment to the language, and this determination will not falter.
The Welsh Government does not have a monopoly on the future of the Welsh language. Many other bodies, both national and local, societies, schools, employers, families and individuals, all have their parts to play. The language is part of who we are and it belongs to everyone. All of us have a part to play in advancing its future.
I plan to make a further statement in the spring outlining our proposals for the future in greater detail.
Grants to support the Welsh Language 2014-15
Rhieni dros Addysg Gymraeg (RHAG) £35,140
Menter Abertawe £102,145
Menter Bro Ogwr £59,435
Menter Brycheiniog £28,451
Menter Caerdydd (gan gynnwys Menter y Fro a Tafwyl) £134,591
Menter Iaith Caerffili £95,552
Menter Castell Nedd Port Talbot £77,415
Menter Iaith Conwy £97,678
Menter Dinbych £81,583
Menter Iaith Sir y Fflint £72,043
Menter Iaith Maelor £36,540
Menter Maldwyn £72,591
Menter Merthyr Tudful £58,400
Menter Môn £89,132
Menter Iaith Dinefwr £93,000
Menter Cwm Gwendraeth Cyf £87,791
Menter Gorllewin Sir Gar £66,921
Menter Iaith Sir Benfro £90,279
Menter Iaith Rhondda Cynon Taf £107,768
Menter Iaith Blaenau Gwent £64,200
Menter Iaith Casnewydd £25,550
Mentrau Iaith Cymru £61,500
Merched y Wawr £84,205
Cymdeithas Eisteddfodau Cymru £46,036
Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru £543,000
Cynllun Hybu Ardal Aman Tawe (Menter Bro Dinefwr) £38,000
Cynllun Hybu Ardal Aman Tawe (Menter Castell Nedd Port Talbot) £38,000
Gwobr Dug Caeredin £20,300
Dyffryn Nantlle 20/20 £3,000
Ffederasiwn Clybiau Ffermwyr Ifanc Cymru £89,719
Sefydliad Cerddoriaeth Gymreig £12,165
Urdd Gobaith Cymru £852,184
Plant yng Nghymru £3,000