On target for seven-year-old Welsh speakers reaching 25% by 2015

Michael Jones reports on progress with implementing the Welsh medium education strategy

In the spring of 2009 the then Welsh Minister of Education, Jane Hutt, launched the draft of the Government’s Strategy for Welsh Medium Education and a year later the Strategy became government policy under her successor Leighton Andrews. The current Labour Government intends to make this strategy statutory instead of advisory.

Last July the Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, published the first report on the progress made towards achieving the targets set for increasing the percentage of those children receiving Welsh medium education at the age of 7 (defined as those children assessed for Key Stage 1 through the medium of Welsh as a first language). In 2009 the figure was 21 per cent. The target is 25 per cent by 2015 and 30 per cent by 2020. In 2000 the percentage was 18.1 per cent and the first post strategy figure, for the summer of 2010 was 21.8 per cent, which augurs well for achieving 25 per cent by 2015.

In the IWA’s 2008 report Creating a Bilingual Wales Owen John Thomas divided the country into three groups of counties by reference to their existing percentage of Welsh speakers. The first group comprises the four counties with a population of over 50 per cent of Welsh speakers, namely Gwynedd, Ceredigion, Anglesey and Carmarthenshire. The second group of four has over 20 per cent who speak Welsh – Conwy, Denbigh, Powys and Pembrokeshire. The remaining 14 have less than 20 per cent of Welsh speakers.

The new report includes a bar chart setting out the percentages of children in Welsh medium education at the age of 7 in each of the 22 counties in 2000 and 2010. Unfortunately, however, there are no similar charts at Key Stages 2, 3 or 4 – that is, for children at 10, 13 and 16 years old. It is interesting to look at these figures against the record of each county in adding to the provision of Welsh-medium schools but it must be borne in mind that the chart shows percentages of each county’s cohort of children in each year and since about 1995 most counties have seen  falling rolls and a reduced overall cohort. If all Welsh medium places are taken up but the numbers in English medium schools fall, the Welsh percentage increases without any increase in the numbers of Welsh medium children. (Note that the percentages given hereafter are best estimates from the bar charts.)

1. Welsh speaking majority counties

Gwynedd has the highest percentage of children receiving Welsh education at the age of 7, having reached 100 per cent by 2010 compared with 95 per cent in 2000. This represents a county policy of compulsory Welsh primary education. Anecdotal evidence suggests a considerable tendency to exercise the available option of English medium secondary education, which is where charts for 13 and 16 year olds would be illuminating. Ironically Gwynedd’s level of success means that this county can make no further contribution to growth between now and 2020. Meanwhile, Ceredigion (75 per cent) and Anglesey (70 per cent) both show a marginal percentage growth since 2000. These three counties each have only one designated Welsh-medium primary school and clearly rely heavily on their ‘traditional’ Welsh-medium schools, but interestingly under the leadership of the governors the parents of the traditional Welsh-medium Cardigan Primary School have voted to convert it into a designated Welsh-medium primary with no classes giving English-medium instruction.

The most populous Welsh speaking county is Carmarthenshire where designated Welsh-medium primary schools are more numerous. There are eight in all and they are generally more highly regarded by parents than the Category A ‘traditional’ schools where the quality of Welsh provision is distinctly variable. The result is a demand for expansion of existing designated schools and an addition to their number. Nonetheless the percentage in the county did increase from 50 per cent to 55 per cent over the 11 years to 2010

2. Counties with a substantial Welsh-speaking population

The four counties of Conway, Denbighshire, Powys and Pembrokeshire all include areas with a majority Welsh speaking population and other very Anglicized areas. In Conway and Denbighshire the coastal areas and some inland towns have Welsh education by way of seven designated Welsh-medium primary schools, while the more rural and upland areas have ‘traditional’ village schools. Both these counties have made modest increases in their percentages to a level at or just below 25 per cent and again there has been a school in Conwy, Penmaenmawr, where the parents have voted for it to become a designated Welsh-medium school.

Powys with many Welsh speakers in Montgomeryshire and southwest Breconshire has two Welsh-medium primaries in Breconshire, Welsh units scattered all over its three component counties, and ‘traditional’ schools in rural Montgomeryshire. These enabled it to increase its percentage of Welsh speakers at 7 years from about 13 per cent to 17 per cent.

Pembrokeshire has long had a Welsh north and an English south. In the north ‘traditional’ schools provide Welsh primary education while in the south there is one designated Welsh primary and two schools with Welsh units. With these resources Pembrokeshire achieved a growth in Welsh medium education at 7 from 16 per cent to 22 per cent.

Anglicized counties

(i) North-east Wales

Like the 12 counties in the south Flintshire and Wrexham provide Welsh medium education exclusively in designated schools. As Owen John Thomas noted, Flintshire has not seen an additional primary since 1971. It is no surprise that the percentage in Welsh medium education remained the same in 2010 as in 2000 at 6 per cent.

Apparently Wrexham did even worse falling from 10 per cent in 2000 to 9.5 per cent in 2010. However, investigation has disclosed two special factors. First, there was a considerable inflow of families from England filling the English-medium schools; and second, the school at Cefn Mawr on the border between Wrexham and Denbighshire, originally designed by the old Clwyd County Council to serve Cefn Mawr and Llangollen, after county reorganisation suffered a substantial reduction in numbers due to Denbighshire opening its own school for Llangollen following the county reorganisation in 1996.  It is only now tht the school is beginning to recover. Wrexham is now planning to open its sixth Welsh-medium primary school on the basis of a survey of parental wishes carried out pursuant to the new strategy.

(ii) South-east Wales

Here the remaining 12 counties can be divided into 4 groups:

  • The consistent providers – Cardiff, Caerphilly and Swansea.
  • The compliant authorities – Newport, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan.
  • The non-compliant authorities – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr, Monmouth and Neath Port Talbot.
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf, the prodigal son.

The consistent providers

Since Owen John Thomas wrote in 2008, Cardiff has opened another two schools and added a third stream to Ysgol Pwll Coch in Leckwith. As he recorded, in 2008 the intake was 560. These were the children aged 7 in 2010 that the Strategy Report noted as forming 15 per cent of the Cardiff cohort compared with 9.5 per cent in 2000. The intake in 2011 is 657, up by about 16 per cent over three years. One cannot forecast a percentage of the overall cohort by 2013, as numbers in English-medium schools have started to grow in Cardiff. Nonetheless, this increase should make it substantially higher.

Likewise Caerphilly has opened another primary since 2008 and has plans to move Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Caerffili into larger premises later this year, plans approved by the Education Minister for which the council has provided funding. It showed a percentage growth from 10.5 per cent to 13 per cent over the 11 years to 2010.

Up to the 1990s Swansea’s growth was held back by a Director of Education much opposed to Welsh-medium education. However, since then it has grown consistently, showing an increase from 8 per cent to 13 per cent in 2010. Further growth will follow from the opening in 2011 of schools in Morriston and Bonymaen consequent upon a parental survey, plus a future new school in Gowerton to serve North Gower.

The compliant authorities

Newport, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan are authorities which have followed the new strategy in all respects, by first carrying out a survey to ascertain parental wishes, publishing it and acting when it became apparent that there was a substantial unmet demand for Welsh medium education.

Newport increased the intake to its one existing school, opened a second in 2009, doubled its intake in 2010, and then opened a third in September 2011. The report under consideration shows a small percentage growth from 3 per cent to 4 per cent between 2000 and 2010. However, by summer 2013 the number of children in Welsh-medium education at the age of 7 will be 150 as against the 30 of 2000 and the percentage will be substantially higher.

Torfaen showed substantial growth of Welsh school population at 7 in its two primaries resulting in an increase of percentages from 3 per cent in 2000 to 9 per cent in 2010. This does not include the effect of opening of a third primary in 2010 in response to the outcome of a parental survey in 2010. The children in this school will first be assessed at the age of 7 in the summer of 2013 contributing to a further percentage increase.

The Vale of Glamorgan shows a satisfactory growth over the 11-year period from 10 per cent to 13 per cent. It was striking that a survey in 2009 showed a demand from 20 per cent of the Vale’s parents for Welsh-medium education. Within a month of receiving and publishing the survey the Vale adopted a scheme to increase the intake at one school by 10 pupils a year, to open two additional schools as soon as possible, and to relocate another school in larger premises with a view to increasing its intake. The first school was expanded in time for September 2010, the two new schools opened in September 2011 and only the relocation remains to be carried out.

The response of these three authorities demonstrates what can be achieved if parental wishes are ascertained and receive the response which Welsh Government policy urges and shortly will require by statute.

The non-compliant authorities

With one exception the five authorities in this category show either no growth or very small growth between 2000 and 2010. With two exceptions they have not opened an additional primary for between 20 and 35 years.

Neath Port Talbot, which includes the Swansea Valley between Pontardawe and Ystalyfera, did open a new primary in 1999 and has carried out two parental surveys, both of which it refuses to publish. This is an area with a good historical record for Welsh-medium provision, with 15.5 per cent in Welsh education in 2000 but actually falling to 15 per cent by 2010. Here the Minister needs to intervene with his statutory powers.

Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr and Bridgend show no or miniscule growth and have carried out no parental surveys. Again, the inaction of these authorities calls for ministerial intervention, which for reasons unconnected with Welsh-medium education occurred in Blaenau Gwent towards the end of 2011.

Monmouth shows a growth from 1 per cent in 2000 to 6 per cent in 2010 due to the growth of their one school in Abergavenny, and the opening and subsequent growth of their second school at Caldicot. Monmouth has not acted to meet the demand for a school in Monmouth, the need for which is demonstrated by the numbers who make the long journey to Abergavenny daily. There is also a need for a fourth school to serve the area around Usk.

No surveys have been published by these four non-compliant counties.

The prodigal son

When it was part of Glamorgan County Council up to 1974, and then Mid Glamorgan up to 1996 ,Rhondda Cynon Taf was the area in the southeast with the best provision of Welsh-medium schools and the highest percentage of Welsh-medium pupils as the 16 per cent it recorded  in 2000 confirms. At the same time  the area was also the site of bitter battles between parents and the local education authority which resulted in Mid Glamorgan opening no less than eight additional schools or units within the area of Rhondda Cynon Taf in its 22 years of existence.

Yet since then, Rhondda Cynon Taf has failed to open a single additional Welsh-medium school over the past 15 years, though it has made additional space available at some existing schools. Thus it has contrived to increase the percentage in 2000 to 20.5 per cent by 2010, substantially the highest in southeast Wales. However, this reflects overcrowded Welsh medium schools and English medium schools with many empty spaces.

Rhondda Cynon Taf has carried out two surveys of parental wishes, in the catchment areas of Aberdare Welsh primary and in the areas of two adjacent schools, Castellau and Gartholwg primaries. Both disclosed an unmet need for places amounting to at least one stream in each of the two areas surveyed. Yet the local education authority refused to act on the grounds that they had failed to appoint a head for a Welsh medium school in the Rhondda Fach and feared that if they opened two new schools they would not be able to staff them.

However, during 2011 Rhonda Cynon Taf faced a level of demand substantially above the places available at Llantrisant Welsh-medium school and at Llwyncelyn in Porth, and were unable to place the children in any neighbouring Welsh school. The parents in each case formed a substantial group and were able to create a good deal of adverse publicity for the local authority. After consideration of numerous expedients the council has made interim provision for 2011-2012 but has conceded that it must now start opening additional Welsh medium schools.

The first, where proposals have gone to consultation, will involve the opening of a Llanhari Primary in surplus accommodation at Llanhari Welsh Comprehensive where numbers have fallen due to Bridgend having opened its own Welsh comprehensive at Llangynwyd. The catchment area for the new school will be formed by reducing the size of the catchments of Llantrisant and Y Dolau Welsh Primaries. Further proposals involve provision of a new for old school in Tonyrefail, temporary further provision in Porth, Rhondda, with a new school to follow and a new school in the mid-Cynon to relieve pressure on Aberdare and Abercynon Welsh Primaries, all included in the Government’s 21st Century Schools programme.

So at the last minute RCT has repented of its opposition to Welsh medium expansion and can be welcomed home by its own Assembly Member Leighton Andrews, namely the Welsh Minister of Education.

It will be apparent that the response of the local education authorities has been and continues to be variable. Although some counties, fortunately with large populations like Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and the Vale of Glamorgan, are responding well and will contribute substantial numbers to the all Wales percentage target of 30 per cent, there are backsliders who need to be brought into compliance. Statutory sanctions should oblige them to comply with parental wishes which some councillors obviously do not wish to know while others prefer to ignore.

Michael Jones is southeast Wales coordinator for Rhieni Dros Addysg Cymru (Parents for Welsh-medium Education). This article features in the current Spring edition of the IWA's journal, The Welsh Agenda.

20 thoughts on “On target for seven-year-old Welsh speakers reaching 25% by 2015

  1. How can you set a target for something that is supposed to be dependant on freedom of choice. The very fact that a target has been set is incredibly sinister. If the Welsh gov sets a target then it will try to achieve it… but are we happy as a nation with the Welsh government pushing and caring about Welsh medium more than English medium education?

  2. It is all smoke and mirrors because the vast majority of pupils forget all about it after leaving school, it is a theoretical percentage not an actual one.

    Alun Ffred admitted in an interview on the BBC documentary last year that numbers taught are not the same as numbers using it. I recall he foolishly said something about needing a survey to find out why they don’t use it, if he needs that to answer such a simple question then lord help us.

    Also the lie that WM gives better results has been put down (but kept very quiet), since 2007 when the results are corrected for social inequalities. EM produces marginally better results, but we are not to be told that and LEAs have not been told to remove the incorrect statement from their websites, so quite frankly it seems if the facts don’t suit the WM brigade lying is sanctioned by the ministers and WAG.

    Although credit to BBC Wales who have stated they will be removing the incorrect WM statement from their School Gate website.

  3. I see the anti brigade have started the debate on this issue. I find this article very helpful and am also encouraged with the Education Minister’s pro-active approach to WM education. I grew up in Swansea, where anti-language bigots denied generations of childrem from even having the option to choose WM education. This is all about choice and the sooner that all 22 Councils are mandated to meet demand, the better. This is not about giving advantage to WM schools, but about offering equality. Let’s hope that Leighton stands up to the usual dinosaurs – many of them sadly in his own party.

  4. In relation to Gwynedd you say:

    “Anecdotal evidence suggests a considerable tendency to exercise the available option of English medium secondary education, which is where charts for 13 and 16 year olds would be illuminating.”

    This is true of both Ynys Mon and Gwynedd where English medium schools are either non-existent or difficult to access. It is possible to track the loss of pupils being taught Welsh first language to a certain extent, for instance Ynys Mon:

    Year…….Class……No. Welsh…..% of total pupils.
    05-06…….6…………539……………71.8
    06-07…….7…………494…………….69.2
    07-08…….8…………478…………….68.3
    08-09…….9…………472…………….67.7
    09-10…….10……….462…………….65.4
    10-11…….11……….450…………….65.2

    GCSE Anglesey Welsh Medium schools 2011

    School………………………cohort………..GCSE Welsh 1st lang………….% of cohort

    Ysgol Sir Thomas Jones…118…………………95………………………………..80.5
    Ysgol Bodedern……………137………………..118……………………………….86
    Ysgol Llangefni…………….135………………..116……………………………….86
    David Hughes………………173………………..129……………………………….74.5

    Total………………………….563………………..458……………………………….81

    The slight anomaly between 450 taking Welsh as a first language and 458 taking GCSE in Welsh first language is probably because pupils taking Welsh GCSE at age 14 (fairly common in the Fro Cymraeg) don’t figure in the statistics until they are 15 years old.

    Of necessity there is only a small loss of pupils in Ynys Mon primary schools between years 1 and 6 because the only option for parents whose children are unhappy in WM schools is to take them to one of the Independent schools at Treffos or Upper Bangor or take them to Ysgol Caergeiliog Grant maintained school which has an English Medium stream. Caergeiliog is the largest primary school in Ynys Mon.

    The cohort that started as 472 (70.8% of total) in the year 2005-2006 is 471 in the final year of Primary school in 2011 (71.6% of total) but numbers wander year by year…a high point of 512 in year group 3, 2007-2008, and this is as a result of migration and movement to other schools out of county or Caergeiliog.

    The pattern for Wales as a whole is different however because many counties have WM primary schools alongside EM primaries and therefore parents can remove unhappy pupils from WM to EM at any point.

    For instance pupils starting Welsh first language schools in year 1 in 2004-2005 were 6,768 or 20.3% of total. By year 6 they were 6,524, a loss of 244, and they formed 19.5% of total. The following year, in year seven of Secondary school they are 5,897 or 17.8% of total. A loss of 871 or 13% of the starting cohort.

    In secondary schools the cohort in dedicated WM schools stays constant whilst in the Bi-lingual and “naturally bilingual” schools of the Fro Cymraeg there is another steep switch from Welsh 1st language (which is as a result of moving to an English stream?) in year 9.

    For RHAG of course their isn’t one iota of concern for pupils trapped in WM education in the Fro Cymraeg……..it’s all about freedom of choice for Welsh Medium education in the English speaking areas and “Compulsion” in the Welsh speaking areas.

  5. The success of WM, if any in reality has been at the expense of reduced spending on EM education, however the actual costs have never been explained, even though it’s all public money. If people want their children educated in Welsh then that’s perfectly correct, however they should not receive any additional funding over and above a standard ‘allowance’. In the long term we will have an accentuated split between the majority of English-only speakers who will be ‘excluded’ from public sector jobs at the highest level, and Welsh speakers who will be running this unhappy land. There is also the removal of children from general population, and in particular ones from the poorest families in economic/social terms and into the preserves of the ‘elite’ within what were totally anglicised areas. This is colonisation in reverse as the young/active Welsh speakers are travelling to south east Wales, and the old/well off pensioners moving in to heartlands to get away from multi-cultural cities over the border as beloved by BBC Wales. I’m just glad both of my grand-sons in English schools and doing very well in disciplined/caring environment and receiving education through English language only, without the ‘brainwashing’ of Welsh nationalism.

  6. The dificulty with expanding WM education is the provision of adequate teachers. It’s no good opening schools if they cannot be adequately staffed. This is even more of a problem in EM schools where compulsory Welsh is a farce that should be stopped immediately at the secondary level. Many schools have no teachers who can speak Welsh but they still have to teach it. The result is that kids are taught to count to ten and the days of the week in year one, taught the same thing in year two, three etc. I know of no kids at EM schools in Wales who have acquired the most rudimentary competence in the language. If you don’t have Welsh teachers you can’t teach Welsh and we should not be pretending to do it.

    All that said, how can you discuss things with people as paranoid as Howell Morgan who thinks Welsh speakers are running the country. Six per cent of the Welsh civil service speak Welsh, a much smaller proportion than in the population as a whole. The big majority of AMs cannot speak Welsh and the heads of universities and chief executives of some local authorities in the most Welsh-speaking areas of the country have no competence in the language. There is no Welsh-speaking elite. The country is run by English speakers – not surprising when most voters are English speakers.

  7. Rather than being the ‘anti brigade’ as Ian says Comeoffit, Nospin, J Jones and H Morgan speak volumes for thus far the silent majority and their message should and must be heard.
    Road to bilingual Wales is unquestionably a social experiment on an unprecedented scale anywhere in the democratic world and a concept that has never been in the public domain for an open and frank discussion and simple facts never examined as to what this is all about and for whose benefit.
    At Glasnost we do not believe that the Welsh Labour Government has a mandate from Welsh people to impose the Welsh language measures and in the process damage English speaking children socially and academically which is the direct result of Welsh above all else initiatives so far in place.
    Glasnost has search long and hard to find anything in Welsh Labour Party’s manifestos prior to 2003 and subsequently to find anything that would even remotely suggest to the Welsh Electorate that once elected and in power Welsh Labour Government would embark upon Social Engineering, impose privileges for Welsh speakers in public employment and education and in the process ostracise Welsh English speaking majority.

    Jane Hutt and subsequently Leighton Andrews in our view are nothing other than pawns in the hands of ‘Closet nationalists’ such as Rhodri Morgan and now Carwyn Jones who are the principals behind this absurd and damaging concept.

    Glasnost is not anti Welsh language but it must be recognised Welsh is a language of a minority, primarily a cultural language and with all due respect largely irrelevant outside a closed mindset of Welsh ‘Intellectuals’ determined to damage Wales socially and economically.

    Specifically to children and even in the Welsh speaking heartland of Gwynedd in primary education the children’s social language is English (See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-11523249) and as other contributors said above most children drop Welsh throughout Wales the minute they leave WM primary education – In short Road to Bilingual Wales has failed and we believe Welsh Government has a duty to respect human rights of all Welsh citizens and immediately remove all compulsion related to the Welsh language in education and public employment.

    In regard to Human Rights IWA readers perhaps may be interested in learning that HR Wales has no right to act upon any racial discrimination issue involving the Welsh language and must refer such matters to Welsh Language Commissioner – Where is Jane Hutt on this as the current Equalities & Human Rights Minister!?

    No one is against protecting Welsh language but equally no one can accept forced assimilation into Welsh language and culture as we must preserve democracy and fight this totalitarian and cynical attempt to socially reinvent Wales using an ancient British Celtic language as tool to do so and a measure that has already damaged Wales in many fields ranging from Inward Investment, Education, NHS and so on.

  8. You are neither silent, nor representative of the majority. Feel free to stand for office is you disagree with your elected politicians.

  9. Tredwyn, I’m not qusetioning the validity of your “6% of the civil service speak Welsh” but what is the definition that you are using? I think that I saw an answer to a FOI request for Welsh Government staff that gave a much higher percentage… (can’t quote because I can’t remember but it was higher than the population as a whole).

  10. Tredwyn: your point about the availability of Welsh Medium teachers is an important one. There is also the question of quality when the pool of teachers is small.

    In 2004-2005 9 teachers applied for each vacancy in a Welsh medium primary school. In the same year 28 teachers applied for each vacancy in an English medium school. Since then this is how average applications have gone:
    WM…..EM
    10…….28
    8………29
    10…….26
    10…….29
    11…….30
    15…….32

    As you can see over the last two years there are more teachers applying for each vacancy, but still EM primary schools have twice the number of teachers to choose from. The same applies in Secondary schools.

    The sudden spike in teacher applicants is probably because of the closure and amalgamation of smaller schools… this is hitting the Welsh Medium sector hardest since they have the greatest number of micro-schools under threat. In recent years the number of WM schools has fallen rapidly.

    I once calculated that 87% of primary school teachers in Wales MUST be Welsh speaking because this was the percentage who were recorded as Welsh speaking added to the number who actually taught Welsh in schools. I naively concluded that you couldn’t in any sense teach Welsh without, at some level, speaking it. Are you suggesting that I am wrong in this assumption?

  11. Thanks for the suggestion Ian, but I’ll stay out of the politics and will stay focused on the Human Rights issues, but I’ll share with you a bit of advance information – The next Parliamentary and Assembly elections in Wales the language debate will be prominent and in the public domain as in LARGE! I am sure nationalists of both kinds (closet & the real ones) will cherish the opportunity to explain the ‘big secret’ of Welsh Social Engineering achievements over a 10 year period to public at large!

  12. Jon Jones. I believe you are right in assuming that one cannot teach Welsh without speaking it but you are wrong if you think it doesn’t happen. My evidence is anecdotal but I have met teachers in the area of greater Cardiff who do not speak Welsh who yet take “Welsh” classes. Unlike J.Putyatin who rants against the teaching of Welsh from a standpoint of English-language chauvinism I favour teaching Welsh where one has the resources to do it and the demand exists. But I see no purpose in making it compulsory to expose kids to Mickey Mouse “Welsh” which will soon bore and alienate them, leaving them no more bilingual than when they started.
    On Welsh civil service numbers I confess to being in the same position as you in not remembering the source for the statistic I quoted. But I didn’t make it up – honest. And I will say from my own expereince of senior members of the Welsh civil service in South Wales the number is absolutely credible, if not an over-estimate. Anecdotal evidence again, I’m afraid. What is beyond contest is that in the Welsh Cabinet there is only one Welsh speaker and one learner. All the rest are monoglot English. These are the people running a conspiracy agaisnt English-speaking Welsh people according to the paranoid element on this and other blogs.

  13. J Putyatin,
    You will have to invent the secret first – a true conspiracy theory if I ever heard one. I look forward to the debate.

  14. Hi Ian, Perhaps you can educate me and help me out too: Please identify in which Welsh Labour Party pre-election manifestos, did the Road to Bilingual Wales feature in and included any tangible evidence for such measures being of benefit to Wales as a whole? Furthermore do you have any explanation as to why the Welsh Government recalled and destroyed Cardiff’s Labour Party’s local elections pamphlet and only few weeks ago that raised the issue of public jobs going to Welsh speakers only?

  15. J. Putyatin: Easy. ALL Welsh Labour manifestos contain a ritual paragraph about favouring a bilingual Wales. What do you expect them to say – we aim to erase the Welsh language? Can’t answer your second question but perhaps they withdrew it because it was nonsense. You can’t name ONE public sector job in Cardiff reserved to Welsh speakers. In Cardiff just 3 per cent of council workers speak Welsh. Most of the DGs who run Welsh government departments are not only English-speaking they are actually English or Scottish. There is one Welsh speaker. Not surprising when the civil service is still UK-wide and any UK civil servant can apply for a job in Wales. You can hate Welsh if you want to but it is mad to feel persecuted by it.

  16. I have found one reference to how many Welsh Assembly employees were able to speak Welsh. It’s disclosure log No. 2593 in 2009 which gave 1109 Welsh speakers in a staff of 6513. I imagine we are talking fluent Welsh speakers here since a further question relates to Welsh learners.

  17. To Tredwyn et al – There is a huge difference between being supportive of a minority language to imposing a minority language and its culture upon the huge majority – So much for Welsh Labour transparency of their intentions!

  18. Also the lie that WM gives better results has been put down (but kept very quiet), since 2007 when the results are corrected for social inequalities. EM produces marginally better results, but we are not to be told that and LEAs have not been told to remove the incorrect statement from their websites, so quite frankly it seems if the facts don’t suit the WM brigade lying is sanctioned by the ministers and WAG.

    Although credit to BBC Wales who have stated they will be removing the incorrect WM statement from their School Gate website.

    BBC Wales have now removed that incorrect statement, well done on them. When are minister or WAG going to make errant LEAs remove it in order to stop deliberately misleading parents trying to get facts to make a choice.

  19. This is an interesting paragraph from Estyn’s report on surplus school places:-

    “13. It is not reasonable to expect an exact match between pupil numbers and school
    places. A certain level of surplus places is necessary in order to deal with
    fluctuations in population and growth in demand for particular provision such as
    Welsh medium education. Local authorities have to allow for the effect of
    demographic change on school populations and it may be appropriate to maintain
    unfilled places until expected additional pupils enter the system. These variations will
    reflect local circumstances. However, allowing surplus places to remain for no
    strategic purpose, particularly in urban areas, can increase the drift of pupils away
    from schools located in less-advantaged communities. This happens if families think
    there are extra benefits for children who are educated in more socially and
    economically advantaged neighbourhoods. In due course the disadvantaged
    communities can be left with schools that are no longer viable.”

    Now we have already come upon the problem caused by the duty put upon councils to provide Welsh Medium Schools at the same time that they are urged to remove surplus school places. Treganna in Cardiff wanted to take over a larger school premises which was occupied by an English Medium school. The irony was that the existing EM school had a much bigger pupil number than Treganna. RHAG used the “Surplus places” argument to demand the closure of the EM school to make way for Treganna.

    When you look at the schools with fewest pupils in Cardiff, the Welsh medium schools dominate but of course no-one is allowed to say “this is irrational”. Cardiff happily designates a “school” of 8 pupils as a new WM school while seeking to close EM schools with hundreds of pupils. Meanwhile, in Gwynedd, there are secondary schools with up to 50% surplus places and micro primary schools which no politician dare touch for fear of being branded “Brad”.

    So in Cardiff out of eighteen WM schools (one has no pupils) 6 are designated as small schools. Out of 88 EM schools 8 are small schools. Out of a total of £401,713 “Small School funding” the Welsh Medium schools receive £161,772 or, put another way, 40% of Small school protection funding is given to the medium that has 15% of the pupils… whilst all the talk is of closing EM schools.

    But I have to ask where is the explosion in demand for school places? Not, as you would think, in WM schools; the fastest growth area comes from the ethnic minority population, one in five children born in Cardiff come from an ethnic minority background. Where DON’T ethnic minority children go to school?? Welsh Medium Schools!

    Estyn, whilst recognising that surplus places in schools allows the migration of middle class pupils towards schools with fewer pupils on Free School Meals, and also recognising that: “In due course the disadvantaged communities can be left with schools that are no longer viable.”

    Fail to extrapolate this very observation to the provision of Welsh Medium schooling on demand!!

    Welsh schools cannot progress until there is some discussion outside the ideological straight jacket that is put on the country’s education system by evangelical Welsh Language pressure groups like the (state funded) RHAG.

  20. I am English and have learned the Welsh language. I also speak French, German and Italian fluently (A level standard). I have worked in commerce in these languages. I can understand parents wishing their children to have Welsh medium education at school especially those having been denied the choice as a child. Culture and a sense of belonging are extremely important to us all. Only the adults of tomorrow can say whether WM teaching is worth while. Certainly it seems adults of today regret not having had this opportunity themselves judging by the census. I had the chance of sitting with a WM class during a demonstration (in Welsh) at the Welsh National Slate Museum in Llanberis. I was in awe at the way those children took an interest in the lesson and the fluency in which they asked questions. OK, afterwards a lot of them chatted in English at dinner break and the teachers did not reprove them which to me is allowing freedom of choice and a non-pushy attitude. Well done, you certainly have my vote. You are restoring to your land some degree of culture and pride.

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Advocating for a stronger Welsh media through our Media Audits.

Bringing through new, unheard writers with our New Voices Fund.

We’re working to make Wales better.
Your support can help us do more.