PLAID CYMRU Shadow Education Minister Sian Gwenllian MS has urged the Welsh Government to delay publishing its new draft Curriculum Bill amid concerns it could undermine local authorities’ Welsh language emersion schemes, and have devastating implications on Welsh language provision in schools.
Ms Gwenllian is calling for a delay in publishing in order to have proper conversations, involving various relevant stakeholders to determine how these possible negative implications on Welsh language provision can be mitigated.
A risk assessment related to the new Curriculum Bill says that school’s governing bodies rather than local authorities will have decision making power over school language policy when the new legislation applies.
Ms Gwenllian argued that this function contradicts efforts made by local authorities to reach the Welsh Government’s long term aim of a million Welsh speakers by 2050. Ceredigion has a rate of over 80% bilingual speakers in amongst its 7 year olds, reflecting the success of its Welsh immersion scheme during the foundation phase.
Plaid Cymru MS has raised the matter with both the Welsh Language Minister Eluned Morgan and with the Education Minister to ensure that the Bill will strengthen the position of the Welsh language, rather than weaken it, but the Government has decided to proceed with publishing the draft Bill regardless.
Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd and Shadow Minister for Education, Culture & Welsh Language Sian Gwenllian said,
“The new Curriculum Bill needs to be put on hold until a thorough assessment is made on the impact it will have on Welsh language education.
“One element of the new legislation that has caused particular concern is its intent to give individual governing bodies rather than local authorities remit over Welsh language policy.
“Each governing body would be able to decide whether to follow immersion policies in the Foundation Phase, totally undermining many local authorities’ sound language policies, and would act as a serious blow to the development of Welsh-medium education across Wales.
“This matter needs to be properly addressed and stakeholders need to be listened to during this process before the draft Bill is published.
“We are yet again facing another battle for our language.”