Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills
Standards and attainment in Welsh second language education are lower than in other subjects and too few pupils are making good progress at Key Stage 4. At Key Stage 4, around one-third of learners are not gaining any recognised qualification in Welsh and more candidates for GCSE Welsh second language are sitting the short courses in which attainment is low. Few Welsh second language learners at the end of Key Stage 4 feel confident and able to use Welsh beyond the classroom.
The Welsh-medium Education Strategy outlines the Welsh Government's aim to increase the number of learners able to reach fluency and use the language in their communities, families and the workplace. The Strategy includes a specific objective to improve standards of teaching and learning in Welsh second language.
In May 2012, I announced a new £400,000 action plan over 4 years to start to improve standards and attainment in Welsh second language education. The main focus of the plan is to achieve higher levels of attainment in Welsh second language by the end of Key Stage 2. The plan also aims to build on the momentum of improved standards at Key Stage 2 by improving learning experiences at transition to Key Stage 3 and progression at Key Stage 4 and outlines actions to review qualifications and assessment.
In order to move the work forward, I am establishing a review group, made up of stakeholders with experience and expertise in the field of Welsh second language, to consider what changes should be made to teaching and assessment at Key Stages 3 and 4 to enable more learners to use the language. The group will be required to report to me by September 2013 and provide recommendations on the way forward.
The Group will be asked to consider:
- how to provide a positive learning experience for Welsh second language learners in English medium schools;
- how to raise the status of Welsh second language as a subject and remove barriers at a local, regional and national level;
- whether qualifications (currently available and/or other possible forms of accreditation) are a lever or a barrier with regard to developing transferable Welsh language skills;
- how best to develop learners' Welsh language skills so that they are able to transfer their skills and use the language in the work place, community and family; and
- how to address workforce planning issues to ensure that all secondary schools have the resources and capacity to provide quality Welsh second language provision.
Members of the group have been carefully selected for their experience and expertise in the field of Welsh second language and to reflect the varied spectrum within Welsh second language teaching and learning, linguistically and geographically.
I have asked Professor Sioned Davies, Head of the School of Welsh at Cardiff University, to chair the group. Sioned brings a wealth of experience to the group and I am pleased that she has agreed to take this important work forward. I am pleased to announce the following have also been appointed to the group:
- Aled Evans, Head of Education Development, Neath Port Talbot Local Authority;
- Elaine Senior, Independent Adviser Welsh Adult Learning;
- Elen Roberts, Welsh Advisory Teacher (secondary), Torfaen Local Authority and chief moderator for Key Stage 2/3 cluster moderation;
- Susan Gwyer Roberts, Headteacher, Caldicot School, Monmouthshire;
- Eleri Jones, Headteacher, Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Denbighshire;
- Aled Loader, Head of Welsh, St Joseph's RC High School, Newport; and
- Bethan Williams, Head of Welsh, Treorchy Comprehensive School.