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."