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Written Statement - Aled Roberts Rapid Review of the 2017-2020 Welsh in Education Strategic Plans

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In March 2017, the Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language announced that Aled Roberts would undertake a rapid review of the 2017-20 Welsh in Education Strategic Plans.
Alun Davies, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language

In March of this year I asked Aled Roberts to conduct a rapid review of the 2017-2020 Welsh in Education Strategic Plans. I would like to thank Aled Roberts for all his work on this review and local authority officers for their contribution and time. I would also like to thank all other stakeholders for contributing their views and observations.

With the launch and publication of the Cymraeg 2050: A Million Welsh Speakers strategy, the Welsh Government has now set out its plans and expectations for strengthening and securing the future of the Welsh language. Education is at the heart of the strategy and a strong and fit for purpose planning framework must now be a priority. We must now move forward by establishing a firm foundation for the planning of Welsh medium education across Wales.

The review provides a high level overview of the plans as well as a set of recommendations providing the basis for change. It will establish a different and more meaningful relationship with our partners. Together, we must be stronger in our collaboration so that we better plan Welsh medium education. This involves ensuring the right number of schools and the highest quality teaching staff.

This week, I will be writing to each local authority to provide feedback on their Welsh in Education Strategic Plans. All local authorities will be asked to make changes to their plans and I would like to thank everyone for their co-operation. We will be further strengthening the relationships we have established with local authorities so we can develop and implement ambitious plans for Welsh medium education.

We know that Welsh in Education Strategic Plans have established a sound basis for planning but there is more to do. So much has changed since the Schools Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 came into being and WESPs became a statutory requirement. The context and climate for the planning of Welsh education must now adapt and modernise to better reflect the ambition set in Cymraeg 2050, and the recognition that education is a key catalyst for change.

I will discuss the review with Government colleagues over the summer and will present a Government response early in the autumn to ensure that the willingness by local authorities to work with us to address some of the shortfalls in the plans is not lost. It is important we get the planning system right and that Welsh Medium education is not considered in isolation. I am grateful to Aled Roberts for his work on this initial phase for change and I look forward to building upon this work in the future.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns, I would be happy to do so.