Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
The publication of the Welsh-medium Education Strategy in 2010 represented a historical milestone in the development of Welsh-medium education. Today, I am pleased to publish the fourth annual report, which outlines the progress made during 2013-14.
I am pleased to be able to report that the Welsh Government has taken steps to implement of all the allocated actions in the Welsh-medium Education Strategy’s Implementation Programme. A number of the actions have led to the introduction of new policies or planning mechanisms, while others have led to the development and funding of projects to improve specific elements of the education and training system.
I would like to highlight some of the main developments over the last year, which include:
- introducing Welsh in Education Strategic Plans and Measuring Demand for Welsh-medium Education Regulations (Wales) 2013 and receiving the first statutory plans
- sharing data on Welsh-medium early years provision to facilitate the planning of statutory provision
- introducing specific requirements for work-based learning providers as part of the tender process for determining providers
- introducing a Welsh-language training programme for practitioners in the childcare sector
- extending the Sabbatical Scheme to include classroom assistants in Welsh-medium schools
- accepting the recommendations of the Welsh for Adults review group and commencing implementation
- publishing 160 Welsh-medium and bilingual resources to support teaching and learning
- launching a three-year marketing and communications campaign to promote Welsh-medium education.
I acknowledged in last year’s report that we are not likely to achieve all of the strategy’s targets by 2015. However, I am pleased to report that further progress has been made against some of the targets, and that the target to increase the number of learners aged 16–19 studying subjects through the medium of Welsh in further education colleges and work-based learning has been achieved. However, linguistic progression between key stages remains a concern and the Welsh Government will encourage local authorities to give further consideration to this next year. In addition, the number of learners studying A level Welsh has reduced since the publication of the strategy. It is hoped that plans to revise the A level specifications will help to mitigate this reduction in the future.
As we look to the final year of the Welsh-medium Education Strategy’s Implementation Programme, the challenge is to ensure that the regional consortia, local authorities, schools, colleges, universities, work-based learning providers and other partners (such as awarding organisations, publishers and Welsh-language organisations) all play their part. The Welsh Government alone cannot achieve the systematic change that is required to ensure that Welsh-medium provision continues to thrive. Our stakeholders at all levels of the system need to take action to ensure that the Strategy’s aims are achieved.