Welsh in Education Strategic Plan
In this section
Our ten year vision for increasing and improving the planning of Welsh-medium education provision in our area
According to the 2011 Census, Carmarthenshire boasts the largest number of Welsh speakers in Wales. Our bilingual population is a unique and valuable asset.
We have a statutory duty to provide Welsh language services, but we are also passionate about promoting the Welsh language and ensuring that all our residents have the opportunity to learn and use Welsh in all aspects of life.
We are determined to ensure that the Welsh language remains a living language in the communities of Carmarthenshire. To do this, we must work together to create more opportunities for children, young people, adults and families to learn and use Welsh at school, at work, in businesses and in leisure activities.
The Council's long-term vision in the 'Strategy for Promoting the Welsh Language in Carmarthenshire' is to: Aim to make Welsh the main language of the county.
There are 5 main aims -
- Increase the numbers acquiring basic and further skills in Welsh through the education system and through language transmission in the home.
- Increase the confidence of Welsh speakers and therefore the use of Welsh in every sphere of life and encourage and support the county’s organisations to make Welsh an increasingly natural medium for their services.
- Take purposeful action to positively affect population movements and try to get our young people to settle or re-settle in the county so that the increase in the number of Welsh speakers gained through the education system is not lost. Also, make significant efforts to assimilate newcomers and ensure that new planning developments do not have a detrimental effect on the viability of the Welsh language.
- Target specific geographic areas within the county, either because they offer the potential to develop or because they cause linguistic concern to increase the numbers in those areas who can and do use Welsh.
- Language marketing & promotion. Raise the status of Welsh including the benefits of bilingualism and the benefits of bilingual education. And by raising awareness of these benefits, attracting more residents of the county to acquire the language.
According to the 2011 Census, Carmarthenshire saw the largest percentage point fall in Wales, from 50.3% in 2001 to 43.9% in 2011, which meant that less than half the population could speak Welsh by 2011. This is the first time in the county's history that the percentage has fallen under half.
A very revealing element of the census data is the distribution of Welsh speakers across a number of age groups. Within Carmarthenshire's Welsh speakers in 2011, there are higher percentages than the county average of-
- school aged children (3-14),
- young people (16-24) and
- people over retirement age (aged 65 and over) that can speak Welsh:
Welsh Speakers in Carmarthenshire by Age Group, 2011
|Welsh speakers ( aged 3 % over)
Following the 2011 Census, the Authority agreed to establish a Task and Finish Group to investigate the factors that had led to the fall in the number of Welsh speakers and to make recommendations to address this situation. In March 2014, the Census Working Group published the 'Welsh language in Carmarthenshire' Report. Recommendations were made for the following areas-
- Language and the Economy
- Welsh medium workplaces and the Council’s administration
- The impact of organisations who work for the benefit of the Welsh language, such as the Mentrau Iaith
- Opportunities to use Welsh in the county's communities
- Language Transmission in the family
- Marketing the language
In terms of the Education and Children sector there were 25 recommendations approved by the County Council – below are some of the main recommendations. The full list can be read in Appendix 1 at the end of the document.
- That the County Council works closely with Mudiad Meithrin and private providers to ensure that Welsh-medium pre-school education is readily available in all parts of Carmarthenshire.
- That the County Council prepares a robust work plan and timetable, in conjunction with school governing bodies, to move all primary schools along the language continuum. Strategies will need to be developed for the various categories and geographical areas.
- That the County Council expect secondary schools to build on the linguistic foundation laid by the Welsh medium primary schools by ensuring that all pupils continue to study Welsh as a first language and as a learning medium up to KS4.
- That the County Council plans for growth in Welsh medium education in the secondary sector.
Welsh Education Promotion
- That the County Council maintains an ongoing marketing campaign to promote Welsh Medium education by explaining the advantages of being bilingual to parents and pupils.
- That the County Council works with all Governing bodies to undertake a language skills audit to take account of the linguistic needs of the workforce for being able to move the school along the language continuum.
Youth Support Services
- That the strategic implementation group ensures that it develops Welsh-medium community opportunities that will support and strengthen the educational curriculum.
This Strategic Plan responds to the above reports and recommendations and the County Council's aspirations approved by Full Council.
Despite the fall in the number of Welsh speakers, we are doing our utmost to contribute in a meaningful way to increasing the number of Welsh speakers in Wales to a Million speakers by 2050 in line with the Welsh Government's objective.
In following the aim of a bilingual Carmarthenshire, we want to ensure Carmarthenshire as a stronghold for the Welsh language in south-west Wales – a County where the Welsh language is a living, prosperous and vibrant language within bilingual, strong and sustainable communities.
We wish to ensure significant growth in Welsh-medium education and training to increase the number of people of all ages who become fluent in Welsh and English and who have the ability to use their languages confidently with their families, neighbours and in the workplace.
Carmarthenshire County Council is fully committed to this key strategy. In implementing this strategy, we will be mindful of the range of views pertaining to the strategy and will proceed in a sensitive, prudent and reasonable manner at all times.
We believe that the role of the education system is indispensable in realising these aspirations. To support this, we will build on and extend several principles from the 2017-22 plan:
- All pupils to be bilingually confident by the age of 11, to the best of our schools’ ability, as achieved by the current arrangement of linguistic designations of our schools, whilst factoring in their journey along the language continuum as individual institutions.
- Deliver this aim in primary school by incorporating the principles of immersion education in the early years as a preferred and recommended option. This can ensure that pupils are already bilingual by the age of 7, with the introduction of elements of a third global language by the end of the Foundation Phase - in pursuit of dual and triple literacy, especially with respect to oracy.
- After the immersion period, ensure that these early benefits for children are maintained by ensuring appropriate aspirational linguistic progression in subsequent years.
- All pupils to be bestowed 'two first languages' by the end of the primary schooling, with purposeful arrangements for progression to the secondary sector to develop and augment the benefits of being in possession of more than one language in order to be able to take every opportunity in life.
- A directive to all school leaders and governing bodies that ensures compliance with the County's immersion education objectives and other provisions in this strategy.
- Promote and develop multilingualism, introducing a third language during the end of the Foundation Phase so that learners can have 'two languages and more’
- Promote oracy, listening, reading and writing in a way that is consistent with the curriculum for Wales, aiming to ensure the dual and triple literacy of our pupils.
- Establish a system of high expectations and raising the bar in treating Welsh as one linguistic continuum from now on
- Move all schools along the language continuum, with the level of challenge appropriate to their initial context, but at a rate of development that is both purposeful and decisive. In general, this can mean moving all schools within their new categories, also aiming for public consultation for a significant change to the provision of at least 10 schools within the decade, 4 of which within the first 5 years.
- Incorporate a proactive approach to the school linguistic re-designation regime, migrating schools at the start of the new system to a designation that will be appropriately challenging for them all as the County moves towards realising the educational vision outlined (see below).
- Arrange for Welsh-medium education to be available to all learners within reasonable travelling distance of their homes and ultimately within their own catchments.
- Work with other corporate services and key stakeholders to promote and further develop bilingualism and multilingualism in Carmarthenshire.
- Ensure that learners with additional learning needs have equal linguistic opportunities.
- Workforce development (outcome 7), through further use of the 200 (13%) teachers who speak Welsh fluently but do not use it in the classroom. In addition, offer training to the workforce along the range of the different levels of proficiency to raise skills in general.
- Ensure that all pupils can speak, read and write the language fluently by the end of Key Stage 2 in accordance with their expected stage of development.
- Ensure a seamless and clear progression from Welsh-medium pre-school provision to primary and secondary education Welsh-medium and bilingual education, through to the world of work, further and higher education.
- Provide services that will ensure good quality learning opportunities for all children, young people and adults in Carmarthenshire, thereby enabling them to realise their full potential as lifelong learners in the context of the County's unique bilingual nature.
- Promote the development of learners' bilingual skills at every opportunity within formal, semi-formal and informal situations so that the Welsh language is used naturally to communicate.
- Promote the cognitive, economic, social, educational, health and community benefits of bilingualism
- Promote opportunities for parents and the wider family to develop their Welsh language skills so that they can support their children's language development
- Work in partnership with all providers to improve the standard of Welsh within the learning environment
- Develop and promote training programmes that will enable the school workforce to gain the competence and confidence to teach through the medium of Welsh.
- Ensure that latecomers are fully supported to ensure that they can integrate naturally into their school and local community by using the County's Language Centres.
- Maintain a team of staff who will ensure the implementation of the strategy, including an overview of the strategy by a Head of Service in the Department for Education and Children and a Welsh Language Development Manager in that department as well. Maintain the Welsh in Education Forum (composed of key stakeholders and partners and elected members across the range of political parties). We will also work with the Welsh Language County Forum to deliver.
Re-designation of Schools - the categories adopted for various schools in Carmarthenshire will be reflective of the WESP strategy and reasonable expectations to move each school along the language continuum. At the appropriate time, we will migrate our schools from their current designations to the new categorisation system:
- On the basis that it is not detrimental to existing bilingual provision
- In such a way as to provide schools with a suitably challenging and developmental journey along the language continuum
- Carmarthenshire County Council will discuss and agree the new assigned category with every school, prior to ratification by each Governing Body.
The curriculum for Wales- The role of the Welsh language in the curriculum for Wales is clearly and frequently stated in the vision set out in Successful Futures. We are committed, by advocating a curriculum for Carmarthenshire, to promoting Welsh as a subject, as a medium of instruction, as a competence and as the language for informal communication in our schools and communities across Carmarthenshire.
The 2021 Curriculum Bill received Royal Assent in April 2021.
Mandating Languages - Welsh is mandated from 3 years of age, whereas English is mandated from 7 years of age. This ensures that:
- Well-established Welsh immersion education can continue unhindered
Current English medium schools are still able to introduce English from age 3
Schools who do not deploy Welsh immersion pedagogy or Welsh in early years will have an onus to introduce Welsh from age 3 onwards
Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 - We are committed to ensuring Carmarthenshire as a society that promotes and protects culture, heritage and the Welsh language, and encourages participation in the arts, sport and recreation.
Welsh Government Draft Strategy- a million Welsh speakers by 2050- We are committed to achieving a significant increase in the number of children and young people receiving Welsh-medium education and skills in Welsh, as it will only be possible to realise the ambition to have a million Welsh speakers across Wales by enabling more people to learn Welsh. We will focus our longer-term strategy on the early years, because the earlier a child has contact with the language, the more opportunity the child has to become fluent.
Sustainable Learning Communities Programme - The Sustainable Learning Communities Programme and the WESP will be aligned. Investment in new schools and buildings will fully consider the strategic aims of the WESP over the next decade.
Welsh Government capital investment is routinely deployed, which has been invested for instance in establishing a Canolfan Iaith (Language Centre) in the Drefach area, scheduled to open in 2021 as a resource in support of the new WESP.
Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act- Priority: To meet the requirements of ALNET and the ALN Code in respect of the Welsh Language
The Welsh Government has placed Carmarthenshire in the most challenging category with the aim of ensuring an increase of 10-14%+ in year 1 children being taught through the medium of Welsh during the lifetime of the strategy.
Percentage of Year 1 children being taught through the medium of Welsh
In April 2021, 60% of our Year 1 learners (1163) were receiving Welsh-medium education. This is an increase of 5% since the start of the current Strategic Plan.
According to Welsh Government data- Total number of pupils taught Welsh as a first language by year group and local authority, 2012 to 2021 56.89% (14,442) of Carmarthenshire learners are taught through the medium of Welsh. In 2017 the percentage was 50.81% (13,694); there was an increase of 6.08% or 748 learners following the Welsh-medium pathway.
Based on an average cohort of 1,964 pupils in Year 1, a 10%-14% increase in Year 1 in Welsh-medium education means between 196 and 275 additional pupils. We trust that our vision for immersion education and the re-designation of schools will ensure that we comfortably meet, and exceed, these absolute percentages and numbers.
By September 2032, Carmarthenshire County Council's ambitious aspiration is that 75% of all Year 1 pupils will attend Welsh-medium education. Ensuring a sound foundation in terms of Welsh-medium education will increase learners' choice and give them the confidence to follow a fully bilingual education and then on to employment and the wider community.