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Background

Council to adopt the updated Welsh in Education Strategic Plan

Written by on 16th December 2021

Having considered feedback from a recent consultation, Rhondda Cynon Taf  Council’s Cabinet has agreed for the Council to adopt the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) – setting ambitious targets to increase Welsh medium learners over the next 10 years.

The WESP is a strategy to underpin the Council’s approach to increase the number of Year 1 learners in Welsh medium education, up to and including 2032. The main target of the updated WESP, which was recently consulted upon, is to increase the percentage of Year 1 learners in Welsh medium education by between 8% to 12%, equating to an increase from 506 learners (2019) to between 720 and 825 learners.

Alongside this primary target, the 10-year WESP also includes several specific outcomes. These range from more learners in the nursery and reception age groups, to a better provision for Welsh medium learners with Additional Learning Needs, more learners studying for assessed qualifications in Welsh, and increasing the number of staff able to teach Welsh as a subject.

A report to Cabinet on Monday, December 13, followed the extensive period of consultation undertaken over eight weeks between September and November 2021. Appendices to the report included an overview of the feedback received in the consultation along with the proposed WESP – and these documents are available to view on the Council’s website.

Engagement with key groups formed an important aspect of the consultation. The Welsh Language Steering Group first considered the draft WESP on July 19 and the updated WESP on December 8. Similarly, the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee considered it on October 13 and December 8. Feedback from each Committee has been included within the Cabinet report.

An online survey was also used, which was promoted through the Council’s website and social media.

A comprehensive analysis of the responses is included within the Cabinet report, but headline figures include that 73.7% of respondents agreed to the Council’s proposed approach to increasing the percentage of Welsh medium learners in Nursery, and 68.4% for its approach relating to learners in Reception.

In total, 65.8% agreed with how the Council proposes to ensure learners improve their Welsh Language skills when transferring from one stage of education to another, and 68.4% agreed with the approach to encourage more learners to study for assessed qualifications in Welsh as a subject.

Finally, 65.8% agreed with how the Council and its partners plan to increase Welsh medium education for learners with Additional Learning needs, and 73.7% agreed with the approach to increase the number of teaching staff able to teach Welsh as a subject, as well as through the medium of Welsh.

At Monday’s meeting, Cabinet Members considered all of the consultation feedback and agreed for the Council to adopt the proposed WESP.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “Every Council in Wales must prepare a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), containing proposals and targets to improve the planning and standards of Welsh medium education and teaching. An updated version of the WESP was reported to Cabinet in July, and Members agreed to an extensive consultation on the 10-year strategy.

“The central target of the updated WESP is to increase the percentage of year one learners in Welsh medium education by between 8% and 12%, to be achieved across the length of the strategy. It also sets targeted goals, relating to an increase in teachers able to teach in Welsh, the number of learners in Nursery and Reception, and improving the current provision for those with Additional Learning Needs.

“Investment in Welsh medium education is a key part of our approach – such as the current works to deliver improved facilities and increased capacity at YGG Aberdâr and Ysgol Rhydywaun. The respective schemes got underway over the summer, and will deliver £4.5m and £12.1m improvements.

“The Council has recently consulted on £12.5m plans for a new Welsh medium primary school to be built in Rhydyfelin by 2024. Cabinet has also agreed initial proposals to modernise and replace buildings at Ysgol Llanhari, and create a new school for Ysgol Cwm Rhondda – as part of a wider £85m investment from Welsh Government to be delivered in future financial years.

“The purpose of the WESP is to put in place a formal plan to deliver targeted improvements across our Welsh medium education provision – having a positive impact on children and young people of all ages who learn in Welsh. On Monday, Cabinet considered the consultation feedback received from key groups, stakeholders and the public, on how we aim to achieve these improvements – and Members have agreed for the Council to formally adopt the strategy.”