Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement (copy enclosed) seeking Cabinet approval of the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan for submission to Welsh Government.


RESOLVED that Cabinet approve the submission of the plan to Welsh Government by 31 January 2022 ensuring compliance with the requirement to create a new 10 year Welsh in Education Strategic Plan.


Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts presented the report seeking Cabinet approval of the new Welsh in Education Strategic Plan for submission to Welsh Government.


There was a statutory requirement to have a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan setting out how Welsh would be developed in schools over the next ten years.  The Plan was arranged around seven outcomes reflecting a learner’s education journey and was consistent with policy areas Cymraeg 2050 and Education in Wales: Our National mission.  Welsh Government (WG) had set a target range of 37% – 41% for Denbighshire to increase the number of year 1 pupils receiving Welsh medium education (27% of year 1 pupils in Denbighshire as of 2021).  The new Plan set out how Denbighshire would meet the target through increasing the capacity in Welsh medium schools and changing the language designation of some English medium schools.  Details of the consultation process had also been provided.


Councillor Hilditch-Roberts referred to the WG’s target of a million Welsh speakers by 2050 and stressed that whilst the Plan referred to measures that could be taken in education over the next ten years, it focused on only one element of a wider community response in developing the Welsh Language, and the Council also had a corporate responsibility to develop Welsh throughout the county.  He elaborated on the seven outcomes detailed in the Plan and how they would be achieved through working collaboratively with partners.  The Head of Education added that the Strategic Plan would have an underlying operational plan with further detail as to how the Welsh language would be developed and outcomes achieved.


The Lead Member and Head of Education responded to questions confirming that the WG target for increasing the number of year 1 pupils receiving Welsh medium education was unlikely to change.  The final Plan would be submitted to WG in January and future monitoring of its implementation would be carried out by the Welsh in Education Strategic Group.  There was much support available for non-Welsh speaking parents which had further increased during the lockdown period and onset of online learning for pupils.  However, it was accepted that more should be done to raise awareness of that issue and the amount of support available to parents and work was ongoing with the Communications Team in that regard.


The Leader invited further questions from non-Cabinet members and the Lead Member and officers responded to the points raised as follows –


·        confirmed that English medium schools were still committed to developing the Cymraeg Campus scheme with schools having achieved the Bronze award and taking steps to achieve the Silver award and ultimately the Gold award

·        reported upon discussions nationally regarding merging the Welsh in Education Strategic Group with the Council’s Language Forum based on good practice with a view to enhancing and strengthening that work going forward

·        reported on the modelling of the data figures and rationale behind the different targets for the percentage of 3-year olds and 5-year olds educated through the medium of Welsh given the varying provision and attendance in pre-school settings outside the control of the county compared to school age children

·        explained the complexities involved for learners from the south of the county attending schools outside Denbighshire in terms of different admissions policies, school transport etc. but assurances were provided that it was an issue which would be considered further and discussed with schools and local members

·        accepted the challenges of increasing the number of Welsh speaking teachers and reported upon the measures being undertaken to generate more staff able to teach through the medium of Welsh which included partnership work with universities and GwE, mapping of linguistic capacity to develop and up skill existing staff and steps to attract new Welsh medium staff to Denbighshire

·        reiterated that the Plan provided a strategic overview and there would be a separate operational plan setting out the detail of how it would be delivered

·        reported upon the success of the immersion programme at Ysgol Glan Clwyd and future plans for staff to visit other schools to deliver that provision; the need to look at the viability of the immersion provision in the south of the county had also been acknowledged and included in the Plan

·        there was some discussion on the Welsh Language continuum and sixth form provision and reference was made to the forthcoming statutory document on the new categorisaton of schools following which there would need to be further discussion on the outcomes and any implications for school transport provision

·        clarified the position of Athrawon Bro with schools preferring to receive funding directly to provide Welsh language support rather than using that service.


Cabinet was pleased to support the Plan and steps to develop the Welsh language in education.  Given the questions and comments raised by members the Leader felt there would be merit in convening a Council Workshop to consider and discuss the Plan in more detail.  The Lead Member confirmed that it would be timely to arrange a session for members once the operational plan had been developed in order to better explain how the outcomes would be delivered and would likely be in the new Council term.  Cabinet also acknowledged that promoting and increasing the use of Welsh was a much wider issue and the Chief Executive highlighted that the Council had a role in leading and facilitating the promotion of the Welsh language and culture both as an organisation and in the wider community and confirmed his commitment to that work.  Given the Council’s ambitions in that regard the Lead Member asked that the Welsh language be made a corporate priority during the next Council term.


RESOLVED that Cabinet approve the submission of the plan to Welsh Government by 31 January 2022 ensuring compliance with the requirement to create a new 10 year Welsh in Education Strategic Plan.


At this point (11.40 am) the meeting adjourned for a short break.


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