Cymraeg 2050 – Turning ambition into reality (Part 2)

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Yesterday’s article provided some context to the Welsh Government’s draft Welsh language strategy, and insight into the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee Report on the Welsh Government’s proposals. It also looked at key aspects of the Welsh Government’s Final Strategy – Cymraeg 2050 (PDF, 2.79MB).

Keep Reading

Advertisements

Cymraeg 2050 – Turning ambition into reality

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Context

A little over a year ago on the ‘Maes’ at the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny, the First Minister and the Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language launched a consultation on the Welsh Government’s draft new Welsh Language Strategy. The consultation ended on 31st October 2016. The previous strategy, A living language: a language for living 2012-2017 (PDF 800KB) officially came to an end on 31 March 2017.

Keep Reading

White Paper – Proposals for a new Welsh Language Bill (Part 2)

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

In the first part of this article, we looked at the main proposals in the Welsh Government’s White Paper – Striking the right balance: proposals for a Welsh Language Bill (PDF, 870KB). This part of the article looks at some of the finer details within the consultation document.

Keep Reading

White Paper – Proposals for a new Welsh Language Bill (Part 1)

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

This article is in two parts, with the first part setting the context and providing an overview of the Welsh Government’s main proposals for a Welsh Language Bill. The second part, to be published this afternoon, will provide more detail on the Government’s proposals.

Keep Reading

New publication: Welsh-medium and bilingual provision in Further and Higher Education

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

This briefing provides an overview of Welsh-medium and bilingual provision in the Further and Higher Education sectors in Wales. It explains the policy context and identifies key institutions and initiatives. The paper also gives statistics on the number of Welsh-medium and bilingual learning activities in these sectors and the number of learners studying through Welsh or bilingually. The Welsh Government has a target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050 and sees education and linguistic progression as one of the main ways to achieve this, as stated in its new Welsh Language Strategy. The report of the Welsh Government task and finish group on the future of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol is due to be published soon.

Keep Reading

Brexit, agriculture and rural life in Wales: Assembly Committee publishes report

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

This article was originally published on 28 March 2017. It is being reposted ahead of the Plenary debate on 28 June 2017.

Following the result of the EU referendum, the Assembly’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into the Future of Agricultural and Rural Development Policies in Wales.

The Committee gathered a wealth of evidence over the six months of the inquiry hearing from, amongst others, farming unions, academics, environmentalists, foresters, LEADER representatives, the tourism industry and the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs. This included a stakeholder workshop, oral evidence sessions, written evidence and an on-line dialogue.

Continue reading Brexit, agriculture and rural life in Wales: Assembly Committee publishes report

Brexit, agriculture and rural life in Wales: Assembly Committee publishes report

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Following the result of the EU referendum, the Assembly’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into the Future of Agricultural and Rural Development Policies in Wales.

The Committee gathered a wealth of evidence over the six months of the inquiry hearing from, amongst others, farming unions, academics, environmentalists, foresters, LEADER representatives, the tourism industry and the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs. This included a stakeholder workshop, oral evidence sessions, written evidence and an on-line dialogue.

Continue reading Brexit, agriculture and rural life in Wales: Assembly Committee publishes report

A look at the work of the Welsh Language Commissioner

14 October 2016

Article by Osian Bowyer, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

meri_huws
Image taken from ComisiynyddyGymraeg.org

Four and a half years ago, Meri Huws started in her role as the first ever Welsh Language Commissioner. An independent post created by the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011. A separate blog post provides background information on this.

The Commissioner recently appeared before the Culture, Language and Communications Committee to discuss her Assurance Report 2015-16 – Time to set the standard: A portrayal of Welsh language users’ experiences.

On Tuesday 18th October 2016, a debate will be held in Plenary on the Commissioner’s annual report.

Welsh Language Standards

30th March 2016 marked a milestone in terms of rights for Welsh speakers. Welsh language standards set new legal duties on local authorities, Welsh Government and national park authorities to provide public services to citizens through the medium of Welsh.  The Commissioner stated that the journey to this point had been long, but that these rights “realize the official status of the Welsh language and enable people, in every part of Wales, to use the language in their everyday lives”.

Over the coming months, duties will be placed on 54 additional organisations, including Natural Resources Wales, Estyn, the BBC and Welsh Police Forces. The regulations relating to the 54 additional organisations (Regulations Numbers 2, 4 and 5) were approved by the Assembly in February and March 2016. However, regulations no.3 relating to Universities were not approved by the Assembly following calls to delay the process to resolve specific issues within the sector.

Over time, more organisations will be included as Welsh Government publish regulations relevant to other sectors. (See this blog post for more background information on the standards).

Dealing with complaints and statutory investigations

One of the Commissioner’s key functions is to investigate “suspicions of failure by public organisations to implement their statutory duties” in relation to the Welsh langauge. During the reporting period, a total of 250 cases were referred to the Commissioner, although not all cases complied with the statutory definition of a complaint under the Welsh Language Act 1993.

Many complaints can be resolved without the need to conduct statutory investigations, however, in some cases, a statutory investigation will be conducted into alleged failures by an organisation. Eight statutory investigations were conducted during 2015-16.

Where organisations do not operate within the standards system or operate a statutory or voluntary Welsh language scheme, the Commissioner can act on the basis of concerns from the public about a service or lack of it. In these instances, a review can be conducted. For example, a review was conducted by the Commissioner in April 2015 into the Welsh language services of high street banks in Wales following “significant increase in the number of concerns raised by members of the public regarding a lack of Welsh language services in banks”.

The review was based on evidence provided by the public and interviews with senior officials within banks operating in Wales. The review resulted in eight recommendations for banks, from “setting timescales for establishing Welsh language online services and mobile bank apps” to “ensuring consistency in the use of Welsh across all branches”.

The Commissioner’s budget

The reduction in Welsh Government budgets for the Welsh language as a whole in 2016-17 is 5.9% overall. According to Welsh Government, the reduction was limited to ensure that activities to promote the language in communities in Wales are protected.

The Commissioner’s budget for 2015-16 was £3.4 million, 8.1% lower than the previous year. Welsh Government has confirmed that there will be a further 10% cut to the Commissioner’s budget for 2016-17, down to £3.05 million. Over a period of 4 years, the Commissioner’s budget has been cut by 25% in financial terms, or once inflation is factored in, a 32% cut in real terms.

According to the Commissioner, the budgetary cuts seen over the last few years mean that “existing resources are not sufficient to extend the hold of the Welsh language measure on different sectors in the near future”.

The Commissioner has also highlighted the inconsistency in cuts to other similar organisations with regulatory functions and statutory obligations.

Assurance Report 2015-16

The 2015-16 Assurance Report: Time to set the standard – A portrayal of Welsh language users’ experiences, is the second such report the Welsh Language Commissioner has published, which focuses on areas of concern for the Commissioner. The report emphasises the need for organisations to “step-up and deliver good quality public services that enable Welsh speakers to increase their use of the language in their everyday lives”.

The Commissioner told the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee that she believed that many organisations had reached a plateau in terms of Welsh language public services, whilst some had rolled back their Welsh language services provisions over the last few years. She cited GOV.UK as a particular example where Welsh language services have deteriorated since its introduction by the UK Government, and that provision of Welsh language services by Government agencies such as DWP, which were once strong, have since weakened.

The Commissioner is due to appear before the Culture, Welsh Language and Communication Committee in the near future to discuss her 2015-16 Annual Report.

How effective are Welsh in Education Strategic Plans?

27 September 2016

Article by Sian Thomas, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg / View this post in Welsh

This article was originally posted on 17 February 2016 but has been updated following the publication of Estyn’s report on local authority Welsh in Education Strategic Plans.

This is a picture of some schoolchildren.
Courtesy of westerntelegraph.co.uk

In February 2016, Assembly Members debated how effective Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESPs) have been in supporting the Welsh Government’s local and national ambitions for Welsh-medium education. The debate in Plenary followed the publication of a report by the Fourth Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee (PDF 1.53MB) in December 2015 and the Welsh Government’s response (PDF 293KB), published 17 February 2016.

What are Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESPS)?

The Welsh Government requires each local authority to produce a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan. WESPs are 3 year plans and are reviewed on an annual basis. WESPs are relatively new, becoming operational from April 2012, and subsequently put on a legal footing in the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013. A WESP is required to set out:

  • The local authority’s proposals on how it will improve the planning of the provision of Welsh-medium education in its area; the standards of Welsh medium education and the teaching of Welsh in its area;
  • The local authority’s targets for improving the planning of the provision of Welsh-medium education in its area and for improving the standards of that education and of the teaching of Welsh in its area;
  • Progress made to meet the targets contained in the previous plan or previous revised plan.

Integral to these plans is the local authority’s assessment of the demand for Welsh-medium education in its area, and what steps it will take to meet it.

The Assembly’s scrutiny role is to examine the performance of the Welsh Government, rather than local authorities. The Children, Young People and Education Committee therefore looked specifically at the Welsh Government’s decision to require local authorities to produce and publish WESPs and whether this approach means that national ambitions and targets for Welsh-medium education are more likely to be delivered.

What are the Welsh Government’s targets for Welsh-medium education?

In April 2010, the Welsh Government published its Welsh-medium Education Strategy (WMES). This aims to:

  • improve the planning of Welsh medium education at all ages
  • plan for an appropriate workforce
  • improve the central support mechanisms for Welsh-medium education and training
  • contribute to the acquisition and reinforcement of Welsh-language skills in families and in the community.

The WMES strategy includes a number of national targets, used to monitor progress. In turn, local authorities set local targets in their WESPs and submit annual updates to the Welsh Government. Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills outlined the link between WESPS and the Welsh-medium Education Strategy, telling the CYPE Committee:

“The Strategy includes fixed five-year and indicative ten-year targets based on outcomes. Tangible progress against these targets would then be measured within a more effective, accountable and coherent planning system. Central to this planning system is the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan.”

The Welsh Government’s 2011 WESP guidelines set out a requirement that local authorities report on the following WMES targets:

  • More seven-year-old children being taught through the medium of Welsh as a percentage of the Year 2 cohort
  • More learners continuing to improve their language skills on transfer from primary school to secondary school
  • More learners studying for qualifications through the medium of Welsh
  • More learners aged 16-19 studying Welsh and subjects through the medium of Welsh
  • More learners with improved skills in Welsh.

The guidelines also required local authorities to report progress on: standards of attainment in Welsh and Welsh Second Language; Welsh-medium provision for learners with additional learning needs; workforce planning and continuing professional development.

The Welsh in Education Strategic Plans and assessing Demand for Welsh Medium Education (Wales) Regulations 2013 also sets out a list of matters which must be dealt with within a WESP.

What exactly did the Children, Young People and Education Committee look into?

The Committee considered:

  • Whether WESPs are contributing to the outcomes and targets set out in the Welsh Government’s overarching Welsh Medium Education Strategy;
  • Whether WESPs are (or have the potential) to deliver the required change at a local authority level (for example delivering provision to meet any increased demand for Welsh medium education);
  • Arrangements for target setting; monitoring; reviewing; reporting; approving; and ensuring compliance with delivering the requirements for WESPs (and the role of the local authority and the Welsh Government in this regard);
  • Whether WESPs evidence effective interaction between the Welsh Government’s Welsh-medium education strategy and other relevant policies and legislation (for example school transport policy; 21st Century Schools programme; A living language: a language for living – Moving forward policy statement; Flying Start; planning policy);
  • Whether the outcomes of WESPs deliver equal outcomes for all pupils (for example primary/secondary pupils; children from low income households).

What did the Children, Young People and Education Committee find?

Published in December 2015, the Committee’s report stated:

“Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESPs) have the potential to deliver a significant increase in the numbers of children and young people being taught and studying for qualifications through the medium of Welsh. When WESPs were introduced, stakeholders saw this potential and welcomed them. However, many of those stakeholders are disappointed by the lack of impact WESPs have had in practice. For them, the story of WESPs so far is one of a missed opportunity. More worryingly, there are growing concerns they are not fit for purpose.”

The then Minister recognised that not all the Welsh Government’s national targets would be delivered, telling the Committee:

“We have already acknowledged in the last two Annual Reports on the Welsh-medium Education Strategy that we would be unlikely to meet all the 2015 targets. Against that background, it seems unlikely that those targets which will not be met in 2015 will also be met in 2020 without improved planning and action at local authority level.”

An example of one of these targets is set out in the following infographic from the Committee’s report which sets out the targets for seven year olds being taught through the medium of Welsh alongside data on the percentage change by local authority between 2010-2014.

This is an infographic showing data regarding the target for educating seven year olds through the medium of Welsh.
Source: Welsh-medium Education Strategy Annual report 2014–15, Welsh Government

The Committee made 17 recommendations, including recommending that the ‘Welsh Government must ensure that WMES targets are reflected in WESPs and be more robust in its approval of WESPs to ensure they reflect the Welsh Government’s ambitions.’

The report also noted the ‘dual role local authorities have in both assessing [and meeting] the demand for Welsh-medium provision whilst also promoting its growth’ and that evidence suggested ‘there was a strong view that local authorities have struggled to fully grasp this dual role.’ The Committee went on to recommend that ‘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.’

What was the previous Welsh Government’s response to the Committee’s 17 recommendations?

In its response (PDF 293KB), the Welsh Government said:

“Local authorities have had 3 years in which to develop and refine their WESPs but the extent to which Ministerial approval has required modifications suggests that there is still some way to go before they are sufficiently embedded in local authority processes to contribute more effectively to the targets and outcomes of the Welsh-medium Education Strategy.”

“The Government views the introduction of WESPs as an important component in creating the system necessary to improve both the planning for, and standards of Welsh-medium education. Whilst this mechanism has been accepted by local authorities, it is too early to judge the impact of the Plans, especially as the initial approval of WESPs and, subsequently, the revised Plans has involved considerable modifications.”

It accepted 6 recommendations, accepted a further 6 ‘in principle’ and rejected 5.

You can watch the debate on Senedd TV.

New publication: Welsh-medium education and Welsh as a subject

04 August 2016

Article by Megan Jones, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

It is the Welsh Government’s policy that all pupils should study Welsh from ages 3-16, either first or second language. However, there is no legal duty on local authorities to provide Welsh-medium education.

Local authorities must have regard to the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure. The Research Briefing explains this in more detail.

Local authorities are also under a legal duty to assess the demand for Welsh-medium education in their area through their Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESPs).

School language categorisation

The Education Act 2002 defines a school as ‘Welsh-speaking’ if

‘More than half of the following subjects are taught wholly or partly in Welsh

  1. Religious education, and
  2. The subjects other than English and Welsh which are foundation subjects in relation to pupils at the school.’

Schools can also be categorised according to the definitions contained in 2007 Welsh Government guidance, but these categories have no basis in legislation.

School statistics by language category

According to the categories used by the Welsh Government, as of 2014/15:

  • There are 391 Welsh-medium primary schools in Wales, alongside 39 dual stream schools, 33 English schools with significant use of Welsh, and 862 English-medium schools.
  • There are 23 Welsh-medium secondary schools, 27 bilingual schools, 9 English schools with significant use of Welsh, and 148 English-medium secondary schools.

Welsh-medium Education Strategy

The Welsh Government’s 2010 Welsh-medium Education Strategy sets out six strategic aims. It also includes five-year and ten-year indicative targets, for example a target for increasing the number of seven-year-old children being taught through the medium of Welsh. The Welsh Government publishes Annual Reports on progress made against the aims set out in its strategy.

Welsh in Education Strategic Plans

Under the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013, local authorities are required to produce a three-year Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) and submit it to Welsh Ministers for approval. These plans should include an assessment of the demand for Welsh-medium education; details of the local authority’s targets and its plans to improve the planning and standards of provision.

The Fifth Assembly

Following the Assembly election in May 2016, and the allocation of roles within the Welsh Government’s Cabinet, responsibility for the Welsh language has moved from the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to Alun Davies. In a statement on 12 July 2016, the new Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies, set out his priorities for the Welsh language over the coming year. He said he was ‘keen to revisit the process of planning for Welsh-medium education’ to ensure ‘concrete and timely action’ leading to the growth of Welsh-medium education.

The Minister said he was also committed to implementing the priorities set out by the Welsh Government in March 2016 on the ‘next steps’ for the Welsh-medium education strategy.

Welsh-medium education research briefing (PDF, 688KB)

Children senedd