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Weaknesses in Welsh-medium education strategies must be tackled, says National Assembly committee

10/12/2015

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The Welsh Government must do more to address the weaknesses in the strategies to promote Welsh-medium education, says a National Assembly Committee.

The Children, Young People and Education Committee has been examining Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESPs), which are drawn up by local authorities to boost Welsh-medium education in their areas.

The Committee found that, in areas with high numbers of Welsh-speakers, including Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, the number of children learning in Welsh is falling.

Other areas, such as Powys, Neath Port Talbot and Anglesey, have seen figures rise.

Nationally the Welsh Government has already admitted missing its Welsh-medium education targets for 2015, and is likely to again in 2020.

Part of the problem identified by the Committee is the lack of accountability and coordination between local authorities and the Welsh Government.

The Government’s Welsh-medium Education Strategy (WMES) sets the targets and the local authorities are responsible for translating that strategy into tangible outcomes through WESPs.

But nothing the Committee heard during the inquiry suggested that Welsh Government and local authorities are working together sufficiently in order to achieve those targets.

The Committee wants to see more transparency in how these plans are developed and on what basis their targets are decided.

The Committee also wants the Welsh Government to intervene where it feels a local authority is failing to deliver its plan.

“The Committee fully supports the Welsh Government’s intentions behind its Welsh-medium education strategy,” said David Rees AM, Acting Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee.

“But we feel there are considerable weaknesses between the strategy at national level and the plans to deliver on the ground.

That targets are being missed, and that in areas where you would perhaps expect to find growing numbers they are actually falling, is concerning.

“We believe there must be a much better level of coordination and accountability between government and authority to deliver these plans, with the power to intervene retained by the government for failing areas.”

The Committee makes 17 recommendations in its report, including:

  • Welsh Government must ensure that WMES targets are reflected in WESPs and be more robust in its approval of WESPs to ensure they reflect Welsh Government’s ambitions;
  • The Welsh Government should be clearer with local authorities about its expectations in relation to the promotion of growth of Welsh-medium education so that all local authorities buy into the Welsh Government’s ambitions, and;
  • The Minister should use the powers available to him under existing legislation to intervene where local authorities are failing to deliver their WESPs.

Report by the Children, Young People and Education Committee: Inquiry into Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESPs) (PDF, 1MB)

More information about the Children, Young People and Education Committee.

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