At this key point in the development of the Welsh Language Strategy, and of pressing need for a meaningful process to ensure that the aim of creating a million Welsh speakers is reached, Dyfodol was grateful of the recent opportunity to meet with Kirsty Williams and Alun Davies.
If we are to realise this vision, then clearly, education, a significant growth in Welsh-medium education, and ensuring a suitably-qualified workforce will be essential. This was our main message for the politicians and civil servants. In addition to this, we also stressed the importance of structures and policies which encourage a positive response to the language at all levels; from the Welsh Government to local authorities, to sharing the message of the benefits of Welsh education amongst parents and soon-to-be parents. This was set firmly within the context of ensuring that that the planned million speakers be given opportunities to learn Welsh to a high standard and be given opportunities to use it across a wide range of situations and experiences.
We received a positive hearing and were encouraged by the Government’s confirmation of the need to raise language and cultural awareness and to promote the Welsh language beyond the classroom.
It was also confirmed that Aled Roberts’s report on Welsh Language in Education Strategic Schemes (i.e. the local authorities’ schemes) is expected within the next few weeks. We repeated our opinion that these schemes need to be overhauled. One important improvement would be to significantly extend the current three year cycle to facilitate the long term planning of Welsh language education. We would also call for language monitoring to start from when the child enters the education system, rather than at 7 years old, as is the current requirement.
We will await the White Paper, which is due to be published this summer for more information on the Government’s plans and for further details regarding the establishment of an Agency to promote the language.