Only one council planning long term to reach million Welsh speakers – research

End 'measure demand' and 'plan for Welsh-medium education for all' - Cymdeithas  

Only once council in Wales has long term targets for expanding and normalising Welsh-medium education in order to reach the national target of a million speakers by the middle of century, according to research by a language group published ahead of a seminar today (Friday, 4th April).   

In response to a request for information from Cymdeithas yr Iaith to all local authorities in the county, of those who responded, only Conwy Council had adopted targets for expanding Welsh-medium education beyond statutory plans running until 2020 or 2022. The law makes it a duty for local councils to draft a plan for Welsh medium-education, namely the Welsh in Education Strategic plan, for a period of three years, and some include education targets in their plan to promote the language which runs until 2022 

The research comes as the Welsh Government prepares to establish an independent board to advise on changes to the Welsh in Education Strategic Plans, and to revise the legislation on which the plans are based. Those commitments came following an urgent review of the system by former Assembly Member Aled Roberts.   

Responding to the news that there's a lack of long term planning by councils to expand Welsh-medium education, Toni Schiavone from Cymdeithas yr Iaith commented 

"It's completely obvious that the Welsh in Education Plans are not fit for purpose. They haven't delivered on the national targets, and the research suggests there's a severe lack of long term planning at a local level The councils responses are interesting because it's obvious that the majority haven't responded to the challenge of reaching a million Welsh speakers. Indeed, some councils, such as Wrexham, are using the legal requirement to 'respond to demand' as an excuse to not do more.  

"As a result, we have a system, which, in general, restricts the normalisation of Welsh-medium education. The system needs turning on its head with pro-active planning in order to that every child receives Welsh-medium education. The Government's plans suggest that we'll have to wait until 2170 to reach that; a much earlier target needs setting. So, the law needs changing and there needs to be a discussion about that. Instead of messing about with its Welsh Language Bill which would weaken our rights, the Government should concentrate its legislative efforts on changing the existing education law."  

Aled Roberts, author of the review of Welsh Language in Education Strategic Plans, WJEC Chief Executive Gareth Pierce and Elaine Edwards, teaching union UCAC's General Secretary will speak in an education seminar held by Cymdeithas yr Iaith today (Friday, 4th May) in Aberystwyth.