Not enough Welsh-speaking teachers

Michael Haggett says two of the Welsh Government’s fundamental education commitments are doomed to failure unless urgent action is taken

This story in WalesOnline about head teachers getting younger reminded me that the General Teaching Council of Wales publishes an annual digest of statistics about teachers and newly qualified teachers. This year’s digest is here.

One thing about the statistics is depressingly constant: there is no significant increase in the numbers of teachers who speak Welsh or are able to teach in Welsh. These are the figures for all teachers in Wales, click the image to enlarge it:

The percentage of Welsh-speaking teachers would, at first sight, appear to have gone up slightly from 31.7 per cent to 32.5 per cent over the last five years. But the number of teachers that can’t speak Welsh has also gone up … and by even more. All that has actually changed is that the percentage of teachers whose language ability is unknown has gone down. Exactly the same is true for those who are able to teach in Welsh; the apparent small increase from 26.0 per cent to 26.9 per cent is more than offset by the increase in the percentage who can’t teach in Welsh.

These are the figures for newly qualified teachers registered in Wales:

At least there are no unknowns in these figures, but the increases from 32.3 per cent to 32.8 per cent and 24.9 per cent to 25.3 per cent are so small as to be insignificant. We can also see that the General Teaching Council of Wales is persisting with the absurdity of thinking that teachers who can’t even speak Welsh, let alone speak it well enough to teach in Welsh, are competent to teach it as a second language. This unprofessionalism (there is simply no other word for it) is the main reason why the standard of Welsh taught in non Welsh-medium schools is so poor.

These figures are terrible because they will adversely effect the Welsh Government’s ability to deliver two of its fundamental educational commitments: the Welsh-medium Education Strategy and the Framework for Learning for the new Foundation Phase.

Welsh-medium Education Strategy

The Welsh-medium Education Strategy was published in 2010 and is available here. Fairly obviously, all teachers in Welsh-medium schools (and the Welsh stream of dual stream schools) need to be able do more than speak Welsh, they need to be able to teach in Welsh. But only 26.9 per cent of the current pool of teachers in Wales can do so, and only 25.3 per cent of newly qualified teachers can do so, which means the pool is actually diminishing rather than growing.

The Welsh-medium Education Strategy targets for the percentage of children assessed in Welsh to first language standard at Year 2 is 25 per cent by 2015 and 30 per cent by 2020. For Year 9 the figures are 19 per cent and 23 per cent. These targets simply cannot be met without a broadly proportionate number of teachers who are able to teach in Welsh, particularly in the primary sector. In fact the percentage of teachers needed might well be higher because many traditional Welsh-medium schools are in more rural areas with smaller schools and lower than average pupil to teacher ratios.

It’s very hard to draw any conclusion other than that the Welsh-medium Education Strategy is heading for ignominious failure unless urgent action is taken to turn things around. So far there have been two interim reports on progress to meet the targets in it, which I talked about here and here. Between the first and second reports the percentage of Key Stage 1 assessments in Welsh to first language standard (Outcome 1) was up only 0.1 per cent to 21.9 per cent, and the percentage of Key Stage 3 assessments in Welsh to first language standard (Outcome 2) was up only 0.3 per cent to 16.3 per cent. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the minuscule increase in Welsh first language assessments goes hand-in-hand with the minuscule increase in newly qualified teachers who can teach in Welsh.

Foundation Phase Framework for Learning

The Framework for Learning is the curriculum that governs the new Foundation Phase for all 3 to 7 year-olds in Wales. It is available here. There are seven major areas of learning, one of which is Welsh.

It’s important to realize that this focus on Welsh in the Foundation Phase applies to all schools in Wales, not just Welsh-medium schools. The Framework for Learning spells this out very clearly:

“In schools and settings where English is the main medium of communication, children’s Welsh language skills should be progressively developed throughout the Foundation Phase by implementing the Welsh Language Development Area of Learning.

During the Foundation Phase, children should learn to use and communicate in Welsh to the best of their ability. Children should listen to Welsh being spoken and respond appropriately in familiar situations, using a range of patterns. They should be encouraged to communicate their needs in Welsh and should be increasingly exposed to Welsh.

Skills are developed through communicating in a range of enjoyable, practical planned activities, and using a range of stimuli that build on and increase children’s previous knowledge and experiences, in safe and stimulating indoor and outdoor learning environments. The children’s oral experiences should be used to develop their reading skills and they should be encouraged to choose and use Welsh reading materials. They should listen to a range of stimuli, including audio-visual material and ICT interactive software in Welsh. Children should be given a range of opportunities to enjoy mark-making and develop their writing skills in Welsh. Language skills learned in one language should support the development of knowledge and skills in another.”

I’ve highlighted the phrase “to the best of their ability” for this reason. As the growth of Welsh-medium education in all parts of Wales demonstrates, children can become competent Welsh speakers to first language standard even when their parents cannot themselves speak Welsh and in areas where very little Welsh is spoken outside school. This shows that every child (except maybe those who have special learning needs) has the ability to use Welsh and communicate in Welsh. So the thing holding children back in non Welsh-medium schools is clearly not their ability to learn Welsh, but the ability of their teachers to teach them Welsh.

This has profound implications. For if we take the Framework for Learning with even an ounce of seriousness, it means that teachers who teach children in the Foundation Phase need to be able to speak Welsh, irrespective of the language category of the school they teach in.

In January of this year, Estyn published a report on Welsh in the Foundation Phase which said this about teaching in non Welsh-medium schools:

“Generally, when practitioners’ own Welsh is fluent, children’s progress in learning Welsh is better. These practitioners use Welsh consistently across all areas of learning. Where there are no confident Welsh-speaking practitioners in a school or setting, the use of Welsh by staff is usually more limited. This means that children hear less Welsh and have less opportunity to practise it. Where there are gaps in practitioners’ knowledge, particularly in the grammar, intonation and pronunciation of Welsh, children can learn to speak or pronounce incorrectly. In a few cases, practitioners cannot sustain using Welsh long enough and use a very limited amount of incidental Welsh with the children.

Most settings and schools have very few fluent Welsh-speaking practitioners and many use Welsh television programmes or DVDs to try to compensate for this, so that children can hear more spoken Welsh. However, this approach does not secure sustained progress in learning.”

In many respects this is a statement of the obvious. The General Teaching Council of Wales’s statistics show that only 32.5 per cent of teachers speak Welsh, and presumably even fewer speak it fluently. Most of these teachers are teaching in Welsh-medium schools (they wouldn’t get a job in a Welsh-medium school unless they could) and that means there must be very few Welsh-speaking teachers left over to teach in other schools. There’s no exact breakdown, but perhaps as few as one in ten teachers in non Welsh-medium schools can speak Welsh.

As I see it, there really is only one practical solution to these problems. The Welsh Government must do whatever it takes to substantially increase the number of primary school teachers who can speak Welsh and teach in Welsh.

No-one would want to put existing teachers out of work, so I think it is better for us to focus our efforts on the way we train new teachers. At present, the minimum requirement to be accepted to train as a primary school teacher is an A*-C GCSE in English, maths and a science. We need to extend this (for Foundation Phase teachers at least) to include an A*-C GCSE in Welsh first language as well, or for prospective teachers to be tested to an equivalent standard. Teaching in Welsh as well as English then needs to be made an integral part of the training course.

The Welsh Government will not be able to meet the targets it has set itself in either the Welsh-medium Education Strategy or the Foundation Phase Framework for Learning unless it takes this sort of radical action.

Michael Haggett blogs regularly on Welsh matters at Syniadau, where this post first appeared.

39 thoughts on “Not enough Welsh-speaking teachers

  1. The real Question is “How much worse is the shortage going to become in the short term?” The real problem goes back to the minimum qualification for students to enter teacher training. So far for Primary school teachers, that has been GCSE A*-C in three core subjects: Science, Maths and English. There is no minimum requirement for Welsh First or second Language for teachers, even for those going into Welsh medium education.

    This is all set to change. From 2014 the minimum entry requirement for Maths and English will be a pass at B in GCSE Maths and English. This should raise the literacy and numeracy capabilities of teachers in primary schools but will it have an effect on how many teachers apply for ITT courses in the first place? In particular will Welsh Medium ITT students be disproportionately reduced in number?

    The potential number of Welsh Medium teachers is ultimately limited by the Welsh language capabilities of pupils taking GCSE in Welsh Medium and bi-lingual secondary schools. We would expect that those pupils with A*-C Welsh in GCSE, gained in Welsh Medium schools, would be the pool for future teachers and so the number gaining this level in 2012 was 3,711. However, to be eligible to train as teachers,those pupils also needed to have gained Maths and English at A*-C. So the final potential pool is just those pupils who hold Welsh, Maths and English at A*-C in conjunction. Of those leaving Welsh-medium schools in 2012: 4,525 passed English A*-C and 4,339 passed maths A*-C. Inevitably the pool of potential ITT students is squeezed by the level 2 requirement but when that requirement becomes A*-B the squeeze becomes greater still.

    From the GCSE WM cohort in 2012 we know the total pool of potential teachers in WM schools if the ITT requirement had remained the same…..the Level2 inclusive figure (3,965 pupils attained this from WM schools) minus those who did not pass Welsh A*-C and those who did not pass English A*-C (205 of these pupils gained Welsh but not English).

    The final number is 2,828 pupils in 2012 with Maths, English, and Welsh GCSE A*-C together…….a certain number will not have gained science A*-C but this will be small.

    School statistics now show that Welsh-medium schools have fallen behind similar (At the same Free school Meals Benchmarks) English Medium schools in assessment and examination pass levels in the core subjects Maths and English and, to a lesser extent, Science. So we know that there is a weakness in attainment in subjects vital to the future supply of teachers to WM schools what we don’t know is whether this disproportionately effects those pupils who are potential Welsh Medium teachers.

    We can speculate however. For many years the Welsh Language Board and recently the “Welsh in Education” department have fudged the issue of Welsh fluency amongst pupils in WM schools and equivalent Welsh and English academic ability. No one can doubt that the best way for a child to gain some measure of Welsh fluency is to attend Welsh-medium school. However EQUAL fluency and literacy in two languages is relatively unusual. This is often glossed over but even Professor Colin Baker, the source for much of the Welsh medium propaganda, acknowledges that balanced bilingualism, particularly at a sophisticated level, is not common.

    It wouldn’t be unreasonable therefore to speculate that amongst the 2,828 pupils who form the pool of WM primary school teachers in the 2012 cohort, the pupils who have Welsh as a first language will not have performed well in English at GCSE.

  2. To test the theory that WM teachers in Primary schools might be lacking in high level English skills I asked two ITT establishments, one in the Fro Cymraeg and one outside in the South to look at the GCSE attainment of Newly Qualified PGCE students in 2012. The sample was 41 Primary Welsh Medium teachers from Bangor and 112 English Medium teachers from Bangor.

    The sample for Trinity St Davids was 31 Primary Welsh Medium and 69 primary English Medium.

    For Bangor 20 Welsh Medium NQTs had attained A*-B in English at GCSE (49%).
    For Bangor 77 English Medium NQTs had attained A*-B in English at GCSE (69%)
    For Trinity 19 Welsh Medium NQTs had attained A*-B in English at GCSE (61%)
    For Trinity 50 English Medium NQTs had attained A*-B in English at GCSE (72%)

    This is a small sample that needs to be expanded to look at all Welsh Medium/English Medium ITT applicants to get a true picture. Nevertheless, the fact remains that, even accepting that pupils will take re-sits to gain the vital “B” grade in the future, the demand for new WM Primary teacher will be harder to meet in the future.

    The weakness in English was not mirrored in GCSE attainment in Maths amongst WM NQTs:-

    All WM PGCE Newly Qualified teachers A*-B Maths 47 (65%)
    All EM PGCE Newly Qualified teachers A*-B Maths 119 (66%)

    And the science figures are as follows:-

    All WM PGCE NQTs attaining A*-B Science 29 (40%)
    All EM PGCE NQTs attaining A*-B Science 81 (45%)

    It is fortunate for the future supply of Welsh teachers that, at the eleventh hour, the Department of Education decided to scrap the intended shift to a requirement for a minimum “B” at GCSE in Science.

    What is not in doubt is the Welsh language ability of Welsh Medium NQTs in 2012; of 72, 58 gained A*-B in GCSE Welsh, 80%. Many also had Welsh at gce A level.

    The big picture is of a demand for Welsh Medium and competent Welsh speaking teachers that cannot be met. The PLASC figures for applicants for Welsh Medium Teaching positions in Primary schools show that there are 11 applicants for each place. There are 33 applicants for each English Medium Primary teaching place. This again is not the whole picture…the demands of the Department of Education for more Welsh to be used in schools has put a premium on Welsh Medium trained teachers so that in many counties English Medium schools (English with significant Welsh) employ WM trained teachers for preference. At any time in the last 5 years between 674 (2008) and 414 (2012) Welsh Medium trained teachers teach in English Medium schools. The number of WM trained teachers available to EM schools is falling steadily as supply is squeezed therefore the weakness in Welsh teaching in English Medium schools will get worse.

  3. It’s all very well saying that we need more fluent-Welsh teachers, but another problem which is not addressed is how rubbish a job teaching is becoming, in terms of pay, conditions and so on. As a graduate (in Welsh) with good GCSEs and A-levels in all the relevant subjects I’m the kind of candidate that might consider going into teaching, yet I’m constantly being told by teachers not to enter the profession because it’s getting less and less rewarding and more and more difficult to be a teacher. Many in the academic world have told me also that there is an increasing trend for Welsh graduates not to enter teaching (where in the past it would have been a very common career choice) and instead to enter professions like Translation or language policy etc.

    Requiring teachers to have qualifications in Welsh may help increase the proportion who are fluent and may be a good idea, but without at the same time increasing the desirability of teaching as a career choice this is likely to further reduce the numbers who wish to enter the profession, resulting in a teaching shortage which will do nobody any favours.

  4. This all reminds me of UK defence policy, which can be summarised as: invade more countries and reduce the army. We have to adapt objectives to resources by reducing one or increasing the other. Compulsory Welsh in English-mediu schools is a pointless farce at present. I know one teacher who teaches Welsh without speaking it by staying one chapter ahead of the kids in the textbook. None of the English speaking kids I know has the most rudimentary competence in Welsh after ten years compulsory exposure. Who are we kidding? I am a firm believer in the promotion of Welsh but we have to be intelligent about it.

  5. Boicymraeg gives a valuable insigh. Competition for competent, well educated Welsh speakers is increasing with every public and private organisation that is given the duty to provide Welsh language services. We shouldn’t be blind to the fact that high achievers from Welsh Medium education might not choose to remain when more lucrative or less stressful options open up.

    As for Michael Haggett’s solution to the problem, it’s difficult to see where it leads. If we continue to stretch the demand for very competent Welsh speakers in Wales as a whole why would we suppose that education would benefit? To demand that every primary school teacher speaks Welsh to first language standards merely reduces the supply of primary school teachers.

    There is a further consideration – the poor performance of pupils in Welsh second language is not just a result of poorly qualified teachers. There is a dogged refusal amongst pupils and parents in much of Wales to see any reason why Welsh is necessary. As long as only 10-12% of the population is actually capable of operating through the medium of Welsh, you can see why logic is on their side.

  6. “As I see it, there really is only one practical solution to these problems.”

    There is another, better, solution which is to ask all parents in Wales whether they want their kids to learn Welsh at all and to remove Welsh language compulsion from all those who say they don’t want it. Then you won’t ‘need’ as many Welsh-speaking teachers and we will arguably get a better class, and a wider choice, of applicants for vacancies and to enter training.

    That should make everybody happy except the anti-democrats in the Welsh language movement who would appear to be relatively few in number. After all, democrats wouldn’t want to be seen to be forcing kids to learn a language they and their parents have no interest in – would they? Society has another name for people who think and act like that…

  7. Interesting reading. I’m a fluent Welsh-speaker from Ceredigion who qualified to become a Welsh teacher last year. Despite passing the course, I decided not to enter the profession. I had many reasons but mainly I was extremely shocked at the low standards of English and even Welsh used by other teachers and lost all faith in the Welsh education system. The fact that you can fall in to teaching at 21 and become a teacher within 9 months is the main problem. Also, we really need to question the wisdom of prioritising the language over the quality of education itself. I taught in a ‘first language’ Welsh Medium school in the south Wales valleys where pupils and teachers’ standards of Welsh were so shambolic it was like the blind leading the blind.

    I’m a natural speaker of Welsh and I can confirm that it is a frighteningly difficult language to learn which is very diverse due to geographic and historic reasons. More needs to be done to standardise the language and improving teachers’ knowledge of it before passing it on in the classroom.

    It’s as if people don’t stop to question what we’re actually doing with regards to the role of Welsh within education system. With such severe social problems and alarming literacy rates, the children I taught did not need to learn Welsh. Some were 15 and had no clue what I was saying and after 10 years of WM education couldn’t even say ‘I have a cat’ in Welsh.

    I am not anti-Welsh at all. I have a degree in it, but what I saw was completely despairing.

  8. It’s nice to see a degree of unanimity in the comments here. I’m particularly pleased to be able to agree with John Walker and R. Tredwyn simultaneously and return to my main theory of “What should be done”.

    Welsh will survive best not as a Wales-wide language that is gradually degraded by poor literacy skills and dubious anglo-welsh words but by teaching being exclusively targeted only at the willing and able.

    We haven’t the resources to teach Welsh to a high standard across the whole of Wales and, as I have said, and Mathew Rees confirms, general education standards are falling in Welsh -medium schools, possibly because of the rapid increase in the demand for teachers for those schools……a demand that has resulted in a fall in quality teachers.

    In Wales we seem to be oblivious to the adage that the best can be the enemy of the good. Michael Haggett sees the only way forward as further compulsion and greater demands put on teachers to learn Welsh. I would rather see us identify the pool of high quality first language Welsh teachers that we have and use them in schools which have only willing pupils with at least one parent who is a fluent Welsh speaker.

    By producing a generation of high quality, literate Welsh speakers we will re-establish some respect for Welsh and make it a valued minority language within Wales.

    We have to acknowledge that the Welsh in English-medium schools agenda has failed and move to a more sustainable and realistic model for the future. Unfortunately there are to many people with a vested interest in denial of the truth.

  9. John R Walker: Your slur about “the anti-democrats in the Welsh language movement” just shows you have a narrow mind. I don’t see any choice to learn English either, but you don’t complain about that lack of “democracy”.

    Tredwyn: “I know one teacher who teaches Welsh without speaking it by staying one chapter ahead of the kids in the textbook.” Really!

    I know teachers over the last 30 years who have taught all sorts of subjects – languages, arts and sciences – on the same basis. It’s nothing new, here or across the border. It has been damaging education for a long, long time. The culprits are some Head Teachers.

    Mathew Rees: “I’m a natural speaker of Welsh and I can confirm that it is a frighteningly difficult language to learn.” Sorry Mathew but this is utter rubbish.

    I’m a natural Welsh speaker who went to English language schools in Cardiff. I was under a lot of ant-Welsh pressure from some pupils and teachers, but I’m stubborn. I also speak other languages (French and Italian) but school was no help in this. We don’t teach ANY languages well. All languages have their quirks but Welsh is NO HARDER than English. Indeed, it’s a lot easier to read. I’m not gifted in languages, I just have an open mind.

    The problems that teaching of Welsh has is a reflection of the attitudes of education as a whole. Jon Jones says “There is a dogged refusal amongst pupils and parents in much of Wales to see any reason why Welsh is necessary.” But this is also true of learning French, Spanish, German or any other language in the UK not to mention some science subjects. Schools and teachers are encouraging pupils to take the easiest possible subjects to boost their figures.

    It’s not so long ago where children in English medium schools needed a higher standard of English in the French exam than the English!!!!

    Flemish research indicates that if all children were taught to read Welsh first the level of literacy would improve considerably, simply because Welsh is a very phonetic language while English is a mess.

    If it means offering financial incentives to schools and teachers to encourage pupils to the subjects we want then so be it. But education here has been in a hole since the Comprehensive revolution of 1965. It was a big mess-up and all Labour and Conservative have done since is to just dig a deeper hole.

    We need to take education out of political dogma for 15 years and get some common sense into it.

  10. Jon Jones is right that “the poor performance of pupils in Welsh second language is not just a result of poorly qualified teachers”.

    Another aspect not mentioned is the lack of status of Welsh as a second language in the curriculum. Headteachers, teachers, governors, parents and kids see that it’s not a core subject so assume that it’s second rate, and treat it as such. If we want these groups to take Welsh as a second language seriously, on a par with English and Maths, then it needs to be a core subject.

    It’s unfortunate that Welsh as a second language has nobody to campaign for it. Non-Welsh speakers who want Welsh for their kids choose a Welsh-medium education, so those kids in the English medium sector who do want to develop their Welsh can see their right to Welsh denied.

  11. Having read the article and all the comments I suggest English-medium education should be in the realm of the Welsh Secretary of State and follow English standards and English examination / grading approach whilst the Welsh-medium Education should be managed via the Welsh Government – In other words ‘Horses for Courses’ and don’t disadvantage 90% of kids who have no interest in Welsh language?!

  12. I, thankfully do not have children going through the current Welsh education system, however did have two that were educated through the English language schools in 1980’s and both had good experiences and went to English universities and have never returned. It appears to me that amongst a minority there is an ‘obsession’ about the Welsh language, and unfortunately this has passed into our educational service. In a free and democratic country it is for parents to decide how their children are to be educated, as they only get one chance, and are in competition with other children from not only the UK, but with globalization the whole world. There are clearly huge tensions between parents in two camps, and paradoxically whilst the Welsh language ‘industry’ seems to be winning, underneath it all there is huge animosity being built up towards to the Welsh language, which cannot be in its long term interest. Any one can ‘force feed’ plants at huge expense, but in the end only organically grown and sustainable will survive.

  13. As someone who studies Welsh as an undergraduate and is interested in the sociology of the language, can I ask the Mr Jaques Protic where he has his evidence from about the interest in the language? Regardless of the rest of his coments, I would like to know if he has carried out any non-biased social research in the area? I very much doubt it. Most of his diatribes appearto be totally based on prejudice.

    Back to the point in question: Mr Walker and Protic haven’t bothered to read the article. Welsh second Language teaching is not the issue. The matter at hand is teachers of other subjects who are qualified to teach through the medium of Welsh. They are needed as there is demand for Welsh medium education per se, and the call for it and provision vary all over the country.

    As far as the ‘anti-democrats’ forcing the poor little dabs to endure an awful two hours a week in the language, I’m sorry to break it to you but most children who enjoy school enjoy all lessons. Besides, children don’t get to choose what they study, the government chooses for them. I wasn’t overly fond of Religious Education either but still had to do it.

    Always it is the monolingual population who left school years ago who have the biggest mouths when it comes to this issue. They are the first to scowl when they can’t understand Welsh speakers when they hear them.

  14. Also I’d just like to point out also that whilst many of you have posted valuable and interesting comments, I would not for a second assert that Welsh second language provision has failed. It has not. Maybe it was just that peoples expectations are just too high. As someone who left an English medium school in Blaenau Gwent in 2008 and was fluent by end of college it’s true to say that I wouldn’t have learnt Welsh if it wasn’t for the school subject. That is true for most of my Welsh speaking network of friends in Abertillery. We use Welsh with each other and are fluent. One of my friends is now actually a qualified Welsh teacher in Brynmawr.

  15. Hi Ben, I would like to reply to you using my personal experience as a parent of two children in Welsh education and not as a political activist via the Glasnost.Org.UK etc:

    My 15 years old is in year 10 (Anglesey LEA – EM stream) – Younger in year 4 primary sector (Conwy LEA – EM with ‘Substantial Welsh’).

    As a parent I have always encouraged my kids to think for themselves and develop independent minds to understand our world and have never imposed my views on any issue.

    Specific to Welsh language both of my children have no Welsh language skills of any significance whatsoever and both have been deprived of valuable teaching time to learn what I call ‘meaningful subjects’ – English; Maths; Science – and as a result are substantially under performing. This, I believe, is an underlying cause for the overall Welsh education performance in these subjects.

    Both of my kids are of average ‘academic abilities’ and are definitely handicapped through unreasonable and excessive Welsh language teaching by teachers who often fall within the average to low standards of teaching abilities as their recruitment criteria is strictly Welsh language related than any other qualities and abilities that should matter.

    The social language of most the kids is English irrespective whether they come from Welsh or English speaking homes (This applies to my lad who is in a large Anglesey Comprehensive).

    In regard to my younger one there are only few children that come from Welsh speaking homes in her school. Those who speak Welsh at home are mainly ‘imported’ by the LEA outside the normal catchment area to justify the school definition of having ‘Significant Welsh’.

    School staff is 100% capable of delivering Welsh language curriculum in this primary school and according to a recent ‘straw poll carried by few concerned parents out of 15 teachers only 6 can be classed as ‘good and inspiring teachers’.

    This school teaches Welsh up to 70% of the available teaching time to non willing and disinterested minds in regard to the Welsh language. The vast majority of them chose English-medium secondary education and quickly forget any Welsh that they learnt. However, they get socially and academically damaged and disadvantaged most likely for life. The system as we have it now is NOT LISTENING TO THE CHILDREN or cares for their educational attainment other than intake of a language that has little or no relevance outside the Welsh hills of the Y Fro Culture.

    I believe in FREDOM of Choice that is being denied to parents of children within Welsh education, hence the reason to separate Welsh-medium and English-medium education. English-medium education in Wales should be managed via the Wales Office. If this is not done we’ll see more harm and more generations of damaged and disadvantaged children.

  16. Mention Welsh, and the usual anti-Welsh subjects are here. They either want to ban it altogether or ghetto-ise it, but haven’t got the guts to actually come out and say it. Fact and biased opinion are mixed to fit their prejudices.

    Other countries and nations value their national languages and give them pride of place in their education systems. Not so here, after seven centuries of English domination, and attempts to wipe out the language. It’s hard to believe that until just over a year ago powers over the Welsh language resided at Westminster, and were only reluctantly devolved to Wales.That just about sums it up.

    I agree with much of what Michael Haggett has to say. David Bullock and Gwyn make a valid points too. I am also heartened by Ben’s comment.

  17. Dave says other countries and nations value their national language and give it pride of place in their educational systems. That may well be but the second part of that sentence follows from the first. You can’t easily give it pride of place if more than half the population don’t value it. My emotional reaction is the same as yours: they are god forsaken philistines who deserve the contempt of colonial-minded incomers like Mr Protic. But after that emotional spasm we have to ask the question: given we are where we are, what are we going to do? How are we going to use scarce resources to promote the language best? Current approaches are failing and it’s no use crying for the moon.

  18. It does occur to me Tredwyn that if I really was a “Language Hater”, as that nice Plaid lady recently called me, then I would let everything just drift along as it is without comment. I am relatively certain that both Estyn and the department of Education are well aware that all is not well with Welsh Medium and Welsh language education but what to do??

    We in Wales have managed to get ourselves up a blind alley without a paddle ( …..I love mixed metaphors) and we are in danger of falling between two stools.

    Dave, Ben, David and of course Michael are all convinced of the way forward……compulsion and more compulsion and if that doesn’t work …….MAKE it work! It’s almost as if, defiantly determined that the language must be spoken throughout Wales, everyone fails to ask whether this is a reasonable and possible objective.

    I know how we got in this stupid pickle……we invented the Welsh Language Board and gave it the twin objectives of measuring the growth of the language in Wales and making sure that there was growth in the number of Welsh speakers. The result was predictable; the WLB never uncovered any shortcoming in anything to do with the Welsh Language. They employed tame academics to do “Studies” that showed that Welsh Medium Education was wonderful……they linked good results from Welsh Medium schools in the 90s to small scale international studies of balanced bi-linguals in Canada and, making 2 and 2 add up to 5 declared that WM schools were good BECAUSE they were bi-lingual.

    Of course it wasn’t true. Most WM schools were good because they were SMALL or HAD FEW PUPILS FROM POOR BACKGROUNDS or just because they had good dedicated teachers and inspirational Heads. In other words WM schools were good if they benefitted from exactly the same things that make any school good.

    The wheel has come full circle….small WM primaries are closing down…..a smaller proportion of pupils in those schools have Welsh speaking parents……there is no help at home for many pupils. Above all the teachers who used to have a good balance of Welsh and English language skills are being replaced by young teachers who spoke Welsh at home, Welsh at School, went to Bangor, Aberystwyth and Cardiff and did a degree through the medium of Welsh……and finally did a TT course at the same universities through the medium of Welsh in order to become Welsh Medium teachers.

    Because of the shortage of Welsh competent teachers even the poorer ones get jobs and…….guess what? Many are intolerant of English pupils (and parents) and unable to teach English well in Key stage 2.

    No one notices. Worse, when sensible parents put their child in an EM stream in secondary school there is outrage…now we have the “Linguistic Progression Totalitarian Edict” ……..You only managed level 3 at Key stage 2? Never mind….You’re STILL going to be taught in Welsh.

    And do you know why it’s not going to change? Because it would be political suicide to even suggest that we have got it wrong.

    I predict more of the same…..only more so!

  19. ………What’s more, on the topic of teacher provision for Welsh and Welsh Medium teaching, have we learned nothing from Finland?
    Why are their teachers so good at educating children? Well, for a start, teaching is a very high status profession; not every Twm, Dic or Harri can get onto a TT course in Finland. Every applicant faces exhaustive academic and aptitude testing over a number of days. They are looking for the BEST not just someone who’ll do at a pinch. Only one in ten applicants for TT actually gets the opportunity to enter teacher training and then it is a very arduous and meticulous progression over a far longer period than teacher training in Britain. Teachers are looked on as the equivalent of Doctors, and they train for a similar length of time.

    What do we do in Britain? Well firstly we aim to fill the courses so, as long as we can get bums on lecture theatre seats, it’s OK. Will all those students become good teachers? Well who cares! It’s up to schools who are employing them to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    And this again is where we hit a problem with the increased demand for Welsh speaking and Welsh Medium teachers. As you can see from that small sample of NQTs there are a fair few duffers entering the market for Primary school teachers……but schools are desperate for Welsh speakers and so, naturally, that particular ability is high on the list for Heads and Governors. I wonder if, when a teacher is interviewed for a Welsh Medium school, anyone ever interviews them in English. Just a thought…it seems that more and more the WM schools are forgetting their responsibility to EDUCATE broadly rather than just produce Welsh speakers.

  20. Somebody writes a fairly damning experience of their children in our current warped education system and Dave and Tredwyn seem to just not accept this. There are countless thousands of WELSH children who are handicapped in Keystage 1 and 2 because of policy. How can it possibly be morally/legally correct to have a virtual total Welsh medium policy for these Key stages in Ceredigion. These children who all have different abilities and are in a majority over Welsh 1st language pupils are being taught their formative years in a foreign language, they and their parents have no choice.

    If they came out of school and had to use the language at the shops or any other aspect of life outside school one might find some justification. This is the farce of it, they might just as well be taught through the medium of Turkish for what it is worth to them. THEY ARE HANDICAPPED end of.

    Oh they’ll get a job in S4C or Ceredigion Council…in front of a 1st Language applicant, give me a break.

    The Article writer is implying that all new Primary school teachers should have Welsh GCSE.

    That I assume would immediately exclude the majority of English, Scottish and N. Irish NQT’s

    Is he real, are we really going to narrow our pool. I taught maths in a large Welsh Comp and at least 20% of the staff were from various parts of England.

    Somebody posted the other day that applications for Doctors in our Welsh NHS “whilst not essential it would be desirable to have Welsh and if not it will be incorporated in their PDP plan” All this for 9% 1st language speakers who all speak English. The General Public in Wales haven’t a clue whats going on.

  21. Why is it that when the Welsh langauge is mentioned up pops the same old names who trot out their nasty and mean minded anti-Welsh language bigotry. Over 70% of the world speak more than one language, decades of studies from the around the globe has shown the benefits of being bilingual – so why is it in Wales, certain people have such a chip on their shoulder. If Welsh Medium schools were so awful as one or two above have commented why is the demand for them is outstripping supply all over Wales. Its no suprise Protic is again at it with usual depressing anti-Welsh tripe. Wales has moved on, perhaps that’s your problem. I went to a Welsh medium school, and then on to university, as have my brothers and sisters. My bilingual education didn’t damage either my English language literacy or, unsurprisingly, my numeracy.

  22. “Same old names who trot out their nasty and mean minded anti-Welsh language bigotry” Sorry Meic I just don’t see it. Could it be that you can’t tolerate people expressing an opinion that isn’t the same as yours?

    As for your personal experiences… I despair. When will people realise that you cannot draw broad conclusions from one particular example.

    We in Wales, through the carefully worded Welsh Language Measure 2011, have made English a second class language and have quite deliberately made those who speak only English second class citizens in their own country. It’s true to say that few people realise this and few realise that they are at a disadvantage because of the Welsh Language measure but the fact remains that increasingly non Welsh speakers ……such as the gentleman above from Ceredigion….are seeing how the Welsh Language agenda is curtailing their rights and freedoms.

  23. Meic- of course it didn’t damage your education. Some people use the excuse that their children have problems,or it’s too expensive, or there’s not enough staff, or any other reason to justify their views. They will say anything half legitimate just to make themselves sound less bigoted.

    If you have any problems with the current policy, fair enough. How would you change it? Being against it per se is not the issue, the issue is people have a general chip on their shoulder about anything Welsh regardless. Within 20 years I really hope attitudes will have changed, the old guard are still active at the moment.
    @Charles I am saddened to here you are actually, or were, a teacher. Such an influential position for someone with such a narrow mind.

    6,000 languages in the world, over 200 countries. What does that tell you? English monoglottism belongs in the museum.

  24. 1. Charles. Very well stated, but surprised at such an ‘off message’ staying for general consumption.

    2. Jon Jones. I read the ‘offending’ piece and wondered how long it would survive, as clearly not toeing the party line, and therefore very suspect!

    It’s clear that rational argument, that seeks to challenge current orthodoxy in relation to the Welsh language is immediately suspect, and the writer accused of whole manner of insults. See Ben above who accuses Charles of having a ‘narrow mind’, when in the laid out arguments seemed perfectly open minded, but of a different opinion. This was always the danger with devolution as the single minded ‘fanatics’ seem to have direct impact on public policy and with craven media, and worse local politicians us English only speakers are left with no protect/rights at all. It will all end in tears as the reputation of a bigoted/nationalist Wales will deter people from coming here to work and set up businesses. Never mind, for the chosen people there will be jobs as translators, or S4C, which is watched by few people, but funded by all of us.

  25. Dave, Ben and Meic Owen – could I ask that you refrain from using words such as bigots, nasty, mean minded etc? Lets have a meaningful discussion that addresses the issues? Jon Jones has set out some interesting arguments backed up with a lot of data – perhaps you would like to scrutinise his data, point out the shortcomings in his ideas without dismissing him as prejudiced or bigoted?

    As a self styled linguist, I am fascinated by bi-lingulism and by attitudes to language. @Ben mentions that lots of people globally are able to speak more than one language. Usually, this happens because there is some practical advantage in learning another language – perhaps the language of higher education in your country is different to your maternal language.

    @Meic Owen asks why demand for WM schools is outstripping supply. I ahve no data to offer – perhaps there is a project there in itself! – but my own observation is that many parents perceive WM as “better”, with better results although they do not generally have any robust info to back up this belief.

    Finally, I’ll say again that I see myself as a supporter of the Welsh language and want to see the language survive and thrive. However, I think we have to start from where we are and be pragmatic.

  26. There are many openings for some objective research into all things Welsh Language… there really isn’t much of it around. For years the Welsh Langauge Board held the purse strings and now I think that any commissioned research is funded through the “Welsh in Education Department” or the Welsh Language Commissioner. You can see the problem with this; all the bodies who can fund research are also bodies whose main objective is to encourage and facilitate the spread of Welsh and its use. In other words if you approach one of these funders with a scheme to research the theory that Welsh speakers are better drivers, better parents, better lovers or whatever then you are pushing at an open door when it comes to funding.

    Can you imagine going to Meri Huws and saying:- “I have looked at the data and, at GCSE level in the core subjects, it seems to me that in 13 years the Welsh Medium and bi-lingual schools have fallen by 6% points in relation to similar English Medium schools. I think that this is a really important message to get out to parents and I want to investigate why this has happened.” Any chance of some funding…

    “Sorry Mr J. the last of our funding has gone to Llyr ap Iorwerth for his ground breaking research proving that pupils from Welsh Medium schools can walk on Water….”

    As for Meic and his demand outstripping supply… there is demand but I have repeatedly written to Local Authorities asking how many parents have been refused a place in a Welsh Medium school. The answer remains a resolute “Zero”. In fact the increase in Welsh Medium pupils is a bit misleading… there is more demand in the Non-Welsh speaking areas, and that demand must be met by law but at the same time the number of pupils in the Welsh Medium schools of the Fro Cymraeg is falling (falling birth rate due to migration of young people) and Welsh Medium Primary schools are closing whilst WM secondary schools are sometimes 50% empty.

    The number of WM primary schools has fallen in recent years so that in 2009 there were 438 schools but in 2012 there were 413 but there were an extra 2092 pupils in them. Similarly the number of Dual stream schools has fallen over the same period from 46 to 42 but with 200 extra pupils. English with significant Welsh schools have taken the biggest hit; there were 60 of them in 2009 and 38 in 2012. Pupil numbers fell from 9,109 to 6,382. The pure English Medium schools decreased in number from 931 to 913 but here again pupil numbers increased by 4,100.

    So a mixed picture and, as I said before, one advantage of Welsh Medium schools, their small size and good teacher-pupil ratios, has been eroded to a certain extent (WM schools are still much smaller on average).

    What I would say is that, whilst it may seem to people in the South that everyone and his dog wants a place in a Welsh Medium school the real picture is of slow growth in pupil numbers across all Primary schools with a “bulge” in demand for WM provision in some areas of Wales and an unseen contraction in the numbers of Welsh Medium pupils in others.

    The bone of contention (as ever) is that in the Fro Cymraeg there would be quite a few applicants for places in English Medium schools if such schools were allowed.

  27. @Carol- as someone who is myself an undergraduate studying language which includes sociolinguistics, I know why people learn other languages, Welsh is useful. It is an economic advantage, the article above will lead to more Welsh speaking people being employed.

    Unfortunatly, as with the situation in many other places (Quebec, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain) it is very difficult to have a discussion on a such an emotive issue without people getting angry. Although your plea is reasonable. I do differentiate between those who disagree with me (Dave for example) and those who do take issue with Welsh having any status at all.

    This is the main point for me – there are people in this world today whose rights genuinely are being trampled on, and most saliently these include language rights. It is absolutely farcical to suggest that English-speakers rights are being eroded, and that they (including my family and friends) are 2nd class citizens. If they go to bank, phone the council, send a letter, they do it in English, no problem. I do that in Welsh and see then whose ‘rights’ are being taken away.

    If you disagree with language policy then that’s great, let’s have a discussion. If you (as a lot do) just disagree with Welsh being treated equally at all, then I’m afraid on forums such as this you will be shot down, this ain’t the Daily Fail.

  28. carol o’byrne says:

    “Dave, Ben and Meic Owen – could I ask that you refrain from using words such as bigots, nasty, mean minded etc?”

    Kindly re-read my comment and note that no derisory terms, including the ones you mention, were used. An apology might be in order.

  29. @Dave – sincere apology for including you in my rearks when you did not use the language I complained about.
    @Ben – I appreciate that this is an issue that peopel feel very strongly about – all the more reason to be temperate and reasoned in our discussions. You say that it’s important to treat Welsh equally – but surely that does not mean treating Welsh exactly the same as English?

  30. Yes Carol of course it means treating the Welsh language on exactly the same terms as English. That’s how official and national languages should be treated. You will note that I would never advocate the treating of English less favorably than Welsh, and that I always speak of Bilingualism; I want equality for both of our languages.

    Wales is diverse and has a complex situation that should be treated with care and dignity. We have two languages, we should respect them both. As with other places in the world, it is English that is usually the strongest language if a bilingual/diglossic situation exists. Look at Zulu and English in South Africa for example. We should be very proud first of all that our ancient language is still spoken and written, studied and used in our society and secondly that we are bilingual and the existence of the two languages spoken by one people gives us strength in diversity.

  31. I’ve studied forums such as this for a few years now. I am genuinely intrigued by the Welsh nationalist’s immediate cries of ‘anti-Welsh bigot’ etc. at the very first sniff on an opinion that doesnt fit with their own. The pattern is excatly the same from many usernames used on many a forum. I am willing to be convinced otherwise but in my eyes there can only be a couple of reasons for this clear pattern… a) perhaps lots of usernames but in reality, few people behind them or b) this immediate ‘smear as a bigot’ tactic of stifling any sort debate on the Welsh language is just that, a tactic that the Welsh language lobby have educated and spread amongst themselves.

  32. The call for more Welsh teachers ignores both the economic situation and the practicalities. As has been pointed out, better teaching – Welsh, English and, dare I say it, other languages – is sorely needed in this country. As for the Welsh language being an economic benefit, the more I know about it the more I begin to think that the opposite is true. And without a stronger economy there is little hope for any improvement in education or the language. Not that throwing money at anything necessarily achieves results. Attitudes and in particular a strong work ethic can achieve more than money. But unless there is a more positive outward looking attitude, and not just one of complaining about England and the English, there is little chance of success.

  33. @comeoffit

    You bandy the term ‘nationalist’ as if it were an insult. To me, having read some of your many comments on the BBC’s blogs down the years, you are a British nationalist, that’s what British unionists are. If you disagree with my assessment of you, then I’m willing to be enlightened. Feel free. We’re all nationalists, of one kind or another.

    Like me, you use a nom de plume. Whilst I strongly disagree with many of the opinions I find on this forum, rational argument is the best approach. Given some of the comments I’ve read here, under various topics over recent years, it seems clear to me that some individuals have a deep seated, if not intense, dislike of the Welsh language. I think this because they simply complain too much, and too often, about it – out of all proportion. I think it’s justifiable to point that out, politely as they might not be aware of how they sound to others. Many times I’ve read something along the lines of, “I’m for Welsh, but…”. This usually means the exact opposite. Racists frequently make similar remarks about ethnic groups – “I’m not a racist, but…”.

    I don’t think anyone here is attempting to stifle debate, not that they would have any hope of success, if they were. The number of comments on this topic alone gives the lie to that contention.

  34. Just to clarify the situation in law with regard to English and Welsh in Wales. The 2011 Welsh Language measure did NOT give Welsh and English equality.

    If you remember the wording is that Welsh is to be treated “No less favourably” than English.

    So I’ll just lead you through that:
    Q. Can Welsh be treated less favourably than English?
    A. No.
    Q. Can English be treated less favourably than Welsh?
    A. Yes.
    Q. Can Welsh be treated MORE favourably than English?
    A. Yes.
    Q. Can English be treated MORE favourably than Welsh?
    A. NO.

    So you can see that equality for Welsh (and of course we actually mean Welsh speakers and Welsh users) never was the objective. The reason for that was very clear from the outset… if you give English and Welsh EQUAL rights then you have to have an English Language Commissioner as well… you have to have a law that says every English speaker has a right to refuse to speak Welsh and cannot be discriminated against for doing so… and therefore no employment can be advertised for Welsh speakers only or indeed for English speakers only. You have to have a law that says all Councils must canvas parents in a “Parental Preference survey” that asks if they would like to send their child to an English Medium school less than 2 miles from their home… and you have to put a duty on those councils (Gwynedd, Ynys Mon, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire) to provide schools in line with that surveyed demand. You also have to look at school funding and tell Cardiff that they can’t give £648,000 to Welsh Medium schools just because they think they’re worth it. That organisation that advertises 75% discount for training for outdoor instructors… as long as they speak Welsh would have to shut up shop. The endless subsidies and payments to the URDD would have to be balanced by payments to the Boy scouts and Girl Guides. Women’s institute would have to enjoy the same state help that Merched y Wawr receive and the hundreds of thousands of pounds paid to “Parents for Welsh Medium Schools” would also have to be duplicated in payments to “Parents for Choice.”

    In short Language Equality was a non-starter because it would have wiped out all the advantage that Welsh speakers enjoy overnight.

  35. Let’s start with what we can agree upon: Wales is a country with two official languages, most people can speak but one of those, although a significant minority can speak both of them.

    If the Welsh-speaking minority is to be able to use its language of preference in all aspects of life, then Welsh must be taught to a high level to all children throughout the country. Unfortunately, despite the vast majority of people in Wales having a degree of affection and respect towards Welsh, this hasn’t been translated into policies which would enable Welsh to continue to thrive in all aspects of life.

    I live in an area where the percentage of Welsh speakers has fallen rapidly in the past quarter century, largely due to population displacement from English cities into Wales. I can no longer use the Post Office, nor many of the local shops in Welsh. I cannot access health care services in Welsh. Utility companies make a mockery of their Welsh customer service provision. Welsh medium central government services are hard to access. That is the reality of trying to live in Welsh in a “bilingual society” where bilingualism goes only one way: towards greater enforcement of English as a norm.

    So, what to do? The author makes a very sensible suggestion: add Welsh First Language GCSE to the list of qualifications required for ITT in Wales. This would not make Wales unique by any means. Many other countries require fluency in the second national language for aspiring teachers. Why should Wales be any different?

    As many contributers to this thread have already noted, Welsh as a Second Language is taught woefully in many parts of Wales due simply to the teachers’ inability to speak the language. Teachers of French, German and Spanish in our schools are educated to degree level with near fluency in those languages, but Welsh can be taught by teachers with the merest smattering of the tongue!

    The Welsh Government must get real: genuine bilingualism means just that. Both linguistic communities in Wales need to be assured that tomorrow’s workforce can respond to all their needs in all aspects of life in their language of choice. This must start by effective teaching of both Welsh and English to first and second language speakers alike.

  36. @Ben – I did not mean “treat exactly the same” in any abstract sense. I meant in concrete, everyday ways. If I might come back to the situation with teachers who are qualified to teach through the medium of Welsh? There are far fewer teachers qualified to teach in WM than EM. So, how would you have exaclty the same number of teachers in both systems? This raises – to my mind – questions about practicalities, about what we are trying to achieve and so on.

    I can see how strong the English language is globally. We can’t undo that but need to look for ways of promoting and protecting Welsh that will work.

    @Dave No we are not all Nationalists! For some of us it’s first of all about class. I think it is rather offensive to compare your opponents on this question with racists.

  37. Now Emlyn makes the “Establishment” case, the case put forward by the Language Commissioner, The Government, Cymdeithas Yr Iaith and Plaid Cymru.

    I can sum this up in this way:

    “Lots of people want to live their lives speaking Welsh all day every day” Why don’t they do this? Because other people can’t speak Welsh to them… therefore we must make other people proficient in Welsh so that the “Lots of People” who want to speak Welsh all day can do so.

    Their are a number of things wrong with this position; firstly no one counts the exact number who are determined to live their lives in Welsh. Recently there was a survey by the Government “The National Survey of Wales” it was a large survey and so I naturally asked if everyone had an opportunity to respond in Welsh. Here’s the reply:

    “All Welsh speakers are given an opportunity to answer the questions in Welsh. All of our survey materials are bilingual (English and Welsh). The advance letter that is sent to every sampled household provides contact information to use if a Welsh speaker would like to take part in Welsh, which gives us the chance to ensure a Welsh language interviewer can be sent to that address. If an English speaking interviewer is sent to an address, and the respondent wishes to take part in Welsh, the interviewer will arrange an appointment for a Welsh speaking interviewer to call round and complete the interview. Interviewers are trained to emphasise the following for any respondents who are unsure whether to complete the survey in English or Welsh:

    · If a respondent is not totally sure about being able to do the interview in Welsh, it is possible to try a few questions in Welsh and see how it goes;

    · The showcards are bilingual, if reading in Welsh is not that strong;

    · Complicated / unusual words are in English – interviewers can help them through it;

    · It is not ‘making a fuss’ or ‘too much hassle’ to request/arrange a Welsh interview.

    I hope this helps answer your questions.

    So there we have it. No one can complain of lack of opportunity to use Welsh… it’s there on a plate. The interviewers are bending over backwards to accommodate Welsh speakers. And how many of those Welsh speakers took advantage of this God given opportunity to use their mother tongue?

    “Percentage of Welsh speakers who answered the Survey in Welsh: 7.29%”

    Time and again the myth is exposed; the drive for Welsh langauge services is a drive to provide secure employment for fluent Welsh speakers; it has nothing to do with actual demand.

    This is not the main objection though. To service this tiny minority 100% of the population of Wales must be taught Welsh. In any other World … let alone country, this would be recognised as utter madness.

  38. @carol o’byrne

    You seem to have a habit of misreading people’s comments, certainly mine, perhaps taking more care in so-doing would result in your having to apologise less often. No comparison with racism was made, let alone intended, it was merely an example of how people claim to be in favour of something when they actually oppose it. The use of ‘but’ often indicates that – no more, no less. I suggest you read it again, carefully, instead of just skating over the words – a lazy habit.

    As for unionists not being nationalists, I beg to disagree. Unionists support the existence of the UK – a nationalist is a person who supports or promotes the existence of a state, country or nation, or is devoted to its interests. It’s difficult for unionists to accept that they too are nationalists, i.e. they support the independence of the UK, and its continued existence as such. It becomes clear that they are nationalists when the state they support comes under threat and they rise up to support it, whereas normally they take its existence for granted, and the question doesn’t arise in their minds. The same thing applies in Spain and Catalonia – there are Spanish and Catalan nationalists. It suits most unionists to use nationalist as a derogatory term with which to bash their opponents, hence the reluctance to accept that it also applies to them.

    In the case of Scotland, the existence of the Union is under a direct threat. Consequently, the supporters of independence are branded by unionists as ‘nationalists’ and ‘separatists’, with the two terms being more or less interchangeable in today’s parlance.

    ‘Nationalist’ was used as a derogatory term during the collapse of the British empire against those who wanted self-government for their countries. The description was soon dropped after independence was gained and former colonies gained respectability in their own right. The term is therefore used as a political weapon, as propaganda. That is why unionists don’t want, or like, the term applied to them.

    If, and when (it will happen, if not in 2014) Scotland becomes independent, its political leaders will no longer be described, reviled, or even thought of, as nationalists, by those who now derisively use that term against them, but will be hailed as the legitimate voice of a neighbouring friendly state. Such is the hypocrisy of the political classes in the UK, that they cling to the vestiges of an imperial mind-set, and largely for selfish reasons. We are witnessing it happening nearly every day in the press and media, watch the BBC, or read the Daily Mail or The Telegraph.

    As for class, thankfully Wales is far less class-ridden than its eastern neighbour. It is for me another reason as to why it would be a better country for its inhabitants, were it self-governing.

  39. I have some indication of the answer to the first part of my first post…..”How bad will the shortage of Welsh Medium teachers get with the new, higher level entry requirements for ITT?”

    In 2012, of those who passed Welsh first language at A*-C, (3,711) only 1449 also passed English and Maths at A*-B and Science at A*-C.

    It should also be remembered that this group is a socio-economic elite…only 5% eligible for Free School Meals.

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