Lack of Welsh teachers: Call for ‘urgent changes’

Campaigners have urged major policy changes to increase the supply of Welsh speaking teachers in order to meet the one million Welsh speakers target, ahead of an expected announcement this week about new education regulations. 

For the past four years, Cymdeithas yr Iaith has called for workforce planning changes to ensure there are enough teachers to meet the Government’s million speakers target. The campaign group is calling on the Welsh Government to:

  • Set statutory targets for initial teacher training colleges to increase the percentage of people who will teach through the medium of Welsh;

  • Introduce an intensive programme of targeted in-work training for schools;

  • Ensure that every sabbatical course aims to have teachers teaching through the medium of Welsh after the course, with a skills certificate as a guarantor; 

  • Extend the initial teacher training courses by up to a year to enable prospective teachers to learn and improve their Welsh; and 

  • Adopt a strategy for planning the Welsh-medium education workforce 

The Welsh Government is expected to publish new regulations that set ten-year targets for councils to expand Welsh-medium education by 2030. 

Toni Schiavone from Cymdeithas yr Iaith commented: 

“We welcome the efforts to strengthen the present Welsh language education plans. However, the Government hasn’t done half as much as they should have to improve workforce planning, especially increasing the number of Welsh-medium teachers. For years, we have been pushing for the Government to act on this, but they haven’t taken it seriously enough. We hope they will see sense eventually. 

“There needs to be a specific strategy for planning the Welsh language education workforce in order to meet the Government’s targets. In that strategy, there needs to be legally-binding targets, or floors, for initial teacher training providers in terms of the numbers and percentage of students who start and complete their training and are able to teach in Welsh. The Government already sets a cap on the number of students who study initial teacher training. It’s clear that the Government has the power, ability and desire to intervene in these courses to plan the workforce. So, it stands to reason that the Government should set targets for recruitment and after the initial training for the numbers who can teach through the medium of Welsh. After all, doing this is essential to meet the Government’s own targets.”

He added:

“Although we welcome the efforts of officers to make do within the current limitations of the law, it’s glaringly obvious by now that there needs to be a Welsh Language Education Act in order to deliver on the vision of a million Welsh speakers. After all, that was the clear recommendation of the Government’s panel of experts earlier this year. It’s about time the Government listened to the experts.”