Government’s failure to reach education targets shows ‘a desperate need for a radical Welsh language Education Act’

Language campaigners have called for the introduction of a “radical Welsh language education Act” following the Government’s announcement that it has missed its key targets in Education to reach a million Welsh speakers. 
Figures revealed today in the Welsh Government’s Work Programme, which sets out the direction of Welsh language policy, show that Ministers have missed their own targets to expand Welsh-medium education and recruit more Welsh-speaking staff over the last five years. The Work Programme has set out a target of increasing the percentage of year-one children who learn through the medium of Welsh from 23% to 26% over the next five years. However, the previous target to assess 24% of year-two children through the medium of Welsh was missed. The percentage of Year 2 children assessed through Welsh as a first language increased by just under 1 percentage point from 2015/2016 to 2020/2021, which was lower than the increase needed to reach the target of 24%.
The Work Programme, published today, outlines the Government’s priorities on areas including Welsh-medium education and housing. According to Cymdeithas yr Iaith, the Programme “is not sufficient if we are to reach, and surpass, the target of a million Welsh speakers.”


Mabli Siriol Jones, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, added:


“We will be meeting the Minister on Thursday to discuss the ideas in this document in more detail. We welcome the Government's commitment to introduce a Welsh Language Education Act, but the Act needs to deliver Welsh-medium education for all children, not just the lucky few. It also needs to include statutory targets for growing the Welsh-medium teaching workforce and be accompanied by significant investment. We call on the Government to establish as a long-term aim in the legislation a plan to achieve Welsh-medium education for all, to make Welsh the normative language of all our education system and to set a target of 77.5% of pupils in Welsh-medium education by 2040. To achieve this, the Government will need to set statutory targets at both local and national levels to increase Welsh-medium education provision and workforce recruitment and training.


“We have set out a vision for the next five years in our ‘More than a Million - Welsh Language Citizenship for All’ document that would ensure that everyone in the country can learn, use and enjoy the language in a meaningful way in their daily lives. That's what we need to see from the Government if they want to deliver on their alleged radicalism and commitment to the Welsh language."