SCHOOL CATEGORISATION ACCORDING TO WELSH MEDIUM PROVISION
To consider a report (copy attached) by the Head of Education outlining the conclusions of the recent Welsh Government consultation on Language Categorisation and its implications for Denbighshire Schools and pupils.
10:10 – 11:00
The Lead Member for Children, Education and Families introduced the report (previously circulated) on the Welsh Government consultation on Welsh Language categorisation in line with its ambition for a million Welsh speakers by 2050, outlining the potential implications for Denbighshire’s schools and pupils.
The Head of Education explained that since 2007 schools in Wales had been designated into five categories, ranging from English medium, English medium with significant use of Welsh, dual language and Welsh medium. There would be three new categories under the proposed new system in the primary sector. It was recognised that the categories could be confusing:
New category 1: English language (historically category 5)
New category 2: Dual language
New category 3: Welsh medium (previously category 1)
There would be a sub-category between each of those categories for schools to use for a transitional period. The majority of schools within Denbighshire already fitted into those three categories.
In line with Welsh Government’s Welsh language ambition even schools in category 1 (English medium) would be expected to provide 15% of education curricular and extra curricular) through the medium of Welsh as a minimum.
The few schools which previously fitted into category 4 – provided between 20% and 50% of education in Welsh - would be placed into a transitional category for up to 6 years whilst they prepare to become a dual language setting.
One of the core principles in introducing
the new arrangements was that schools should not offer less Welsh-medium
provision in the future than had been
the offered in the past.
In the secondary sector there would also be 3 new categories, but Category 3 Welsh medium would be divided into two sub-categories:
Category 3: Welsh Medium
Category 3P: Designated Welsh Medium
It was anticipated that by January 2024 the categories in the Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC), a statutory return that schools needed to complete for Welsh Government, will have changed and existing categories would no longer exist.
If there were any substantive changes under the reorganisation process – regulated alteration under section 42 of The School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 – the proposals would have to go out to consultation. The plans would be monitored as part of the Welsh Education Strategic Group’s (WESG) work. This Group comprised of the two lead members and two representatives from Scrutiny Committees.
The Lead Member for Welsh Language, Culture and Heritage reiterated the importance of the measure to reach the goal of a million Welsh speakers by 2050. Resources had been implemented to assist teaching staff to improve their Welsh language skills, including a 12-month Welsh language sabbatical course provided by Bangor University that not only taught the Welsh language but also the methodology for teaching Welsh in schools, and for using conversational Welsh as part of normal daily life in schools.
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language had announced that Welsh lessons for teachers in Wales were to be provided free of charge in addition to young people aged 18 to 24 who wished to continue to improve their language skills.
An experienced head teacher had been seconded for the academic year to work on the Welsh Education Strategic Plan (WESP), which included the re-categorisation of schools, and further posts had been funded by the seclusion of grant funding to assist in the transition arrangements for schools.
It was recognised that there were instances where parents of children did not have any knowledge of the Welsh language but it was important to share communication from the Welsh Education Strategic Group (WESG) which highlighted the requirement by many organisations (e.g. North Wales Police) to possess a certain level of Welsh language for their employment policies in order to get parents on board.
It was advised that the WESG, working in
partnership with Menter Iaith, Pop
peth Cymraeg, Yr Urdd, Mudiad
Meithrin, would have a role to play to promote and provide Welsh classes for
adults. There were also facilities within Denbighshire’s libraries for Welsh
learners, both children and adults.
The Welsh Government had already approved the Council’s 10-year Welsh in Education Plan in July 2022. However, an action plan had to be submitted to Welsh Government by the end of December 2022 on the implementation of the plan. The action plan would have timescales and key milestones that would require reporting on annually.
There could be implications in relation to Welsh medium transport. Denbighshire operated under the Learner Transport Measure which was likely to be amended by Welsh Government moving forward to dovetail with the categorisation changes. The Authority would need to issue new clarification guidance as to where Denbighshire’s Transport Policy sits – historically category 1 and 2 for Welsh medium schools changing to category 3 – until the Learner Transport Policy was revised. Any changes that had a marked impact on school transport would be presented to scrutiny.
At the conclusion of an in-depth discussion the Committee:
Resolved: - subject to the above observations to receive the information provided, and –
(i) acknowledge the changes that will be required in some of the county’s schools going forward if the Authority is to ensure compliance with the Welsh Government’s vision and requirements in relation to Welsh language education provision; and
(ii) that a progress report be presented to the Committee in the autumn of 2023 outlining the planning and implementation work undertaken to date with respect of securing the delivery of Welsh Medium Curricula and Non-Curricula provision in the County’s Schools in accordance with the Welsh Government’s vision.
At this juncture, with the Committee’s agreement, the order of business on the meeting’s agenda was varied with business item 7, the Committee’s ‘Scrutiny Work Programme’ report, discussed ahead of item 6 ‘Hafan Deg Day Centre Update’.
- Language Categorisation Report 290922, item 5. PDF 152 KB
- Language Categorisation Report 290922 - Appendix 1, item 5. PDF 318 KB
- Language Categorisation Report 290922 - AtodiadAppendix 2, item 5. PDF 204 KB