New Welsh language qualification published on fifth anniversary of ‘urgent’ report

Second Language Welsh still taught despite 5 year-old recommendation to abolish it 

Volunteers will publish their own Welsh language qualification today (Thursday, 27th September) following the Welsh Government’s failure to implement a five year old recommendation to abolish second language Welsh.  

In 2013, Professor Sioned Davies published a Welsh Government-commissioned review which recommended that "over a three to five year period ... the Welsh second language element of the Welsh programme of study should be removed along with the term Welsh second language". The report stated: "It is undeniably the eleventh hour for Welsh second language ... If we are serious about developing Welsh speakers, and about seeing the Welsh language thrive, a change of direction is urgently required before it is too late. 

The draft paper being published by Cymdeithas yr Iaith today recommends: 

  • Replacing the present qualifications with one continuum based on the Welsh for Adults modelthat would allow pupils to add to their school education with intensive courses  
  • Create a common qualifiaction and assessment which focuses mainly on oral skills  
  • Common oral assessments for every pupil at 14 and 16 years old, extending the most able pupils with further literature papers  

Ahead of publishing the new proposed single Welsh language qualification for all pupils, Toni Schiavone from Cymdeithas yr Iaith commented:  

"We’ve had to do this voluntary work because of the Government’s failure to implement a report they themselves commissioned; we’d welcome feedback on the proposals drafted by a group of experts. It's now five years since Professor Sioned Davies' report that called for urgent, eleventh hour action and for the abolition of second language Welsh by 2018 at the latest. But, as things stand, the Government is kicking the issue into the long grass. That's why we in Cymdeithas have published our own qualification.  

Following commitments by the First Minister and other Ministers, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said in a meeting with Cymdeithas yr Iaith earlier this year that there "will be a single Welsh language qualification" for all pupils that will replace the existing exams. However, there is no intention to teach the new qualification until 2025 – 12 years since Professor Davies' report.  

Mr Schiavone added: 

"Although we welcome the Education Secretary's statement that there will be one Welsh language qualification for every pupil instead of second language Welsh, delaying until 2025 is totally unacceptable. We also have major concerns about the commitment of civil servants, which, despite personal commitments from Ministers, haven't given the commitment in a single policy document yet.  

"In order to ensure there is greater understanding and higher expectations of our education system in terms of learning Welsh, we strongly believe that the Government should publish an example Welsh language qualification for all pupils this year. That would allow some counties and schools to start trialling it from September 2019. Introducing the qualification across the rest of Wales could then be rolled out in the following years. It would also spur on the work of develop the workforce’s skills - a matter to which councils should give a lot more attention.”