Ceredigion school children are back having face-to-face “immersion” in the Welsh language to support their learning after having to move online during the pandemic.
Children who need support with their Welsh can go to one of three immersion centres in the county for intensive lessons – five days a week for half a term – to ensure they can fully take part in education and be at the same level as their peers, members of the Ceredigion County Council language committee heard this week.
There is currently a waiting list for the Cardigan centre, said managing officer Menna Beaufort-Jones, with those pupils receiving virtual provision, similar to all those that needed support with Welsh during lockdowns.
Mrs Beaufort-Jones added that there were currently eight pupils in the Penweddig centre, 12 at Felin Fach and ten at Cardigan, with another ten due to start after Christmas.
The team’s work has been praised by Esytn, Meinir Ebbsworth, corporate lead officer for schools, told the committee on Monday, November 22, and they have been asked to share best practise with other schools.
She added that numbers at the centres were consistent but it was not usual to have a waiting list, adding those that are waiting, as well as others needing additional support, do receive online provision, with an increase in numbers on site not considered beneficial due to the “intense work that needs to be done with the pupils.”
News on an application for Welsh Government funding for language immersion is awaited with three projects in the pipeline if successful – one for pupils who missed year six due to lockdown and need support, the second for children who missed year one and need extra help before starting the next key stage and thirdly a review of virtual provisions.
They committee also heard of the “fantastic” work of Anwen Eleri Bowen, who has been promoting the Welsh Language Charter and involving young people in the language in all aspects of their lives with celebrations, online provision and events.
“It’s very positive and very important that you managed in a very difficult period to immerse those pupils in the Welsh language,” said Cllr Keith Evans, who asked about travel putting a “strain” on pupils and was assured that pupils from the local area attend their nearest centres.
A public consultation on Welsh in education strategy was completed earlier this month and the results are currently being collated, but officers are waiting for an update on a Welsh Government consultation on defining Welsh schools before making any final response, with a report to committee due in the New Year.