Warning to councils over Welsh schools
4:45pm Monday 23rd December 2013 in News
A WELSH language pressure group has called on councils to “take ownership of their duty” to improve the planning of Welsh-medium education.
The call by Rhieni Dros Addysg Gymraeg (RhAG), which translates as Parents for Welsh-medium Education, has laid down the challenge after local authorities received an extra four weeks to submit their Welsh in Education Strategic Plans to the Welsh Government.
Plans must now be submitted by January 20, 2014.
Blaenau Gwent’s plan has already been submitted by assistant head of education Sarah Morgan, while Monmouthshire council have not yet submitted their plan. The Argus contacted the other Gwent councils but did not receive a response.
Earlier this month the Argus reported that a solution to the squeeze on Welsh-medium secondary education in Gwent, which is due to be full by 2016, will likely be delivered in Newport.
Newport council, which is working with the other Gwent authorities on the issue, said an alternative solution will be required by September 2016.
At the time the council said work on its proposal was underway and more information would be available at the end of the year.
In December 2011, local authorities submitted their first plan to Welsh Government, detailing how each council will achieve the outcomes and targets set out in the Welsh-medium education strategy.
These were prepared and submitted on a voluntary basis, but the National Assembly passed the Schools Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act in January this year, looking to move to a statutory footing. The Act places a duty upon local authorities to consult on, produce and publish a three-year Welsh in Education Strategic Plan that will be submitted for approval of, and monitoring by, Welsh ministers.
Welsh ministers can make regulations about assessing the demand for Welsh-medium education.
Ceri Owen, RhAG’s national development officer said the new planning regime from April 2014 will be on a statutory basis “with the force of the law behind it”.
“We therefore call on local authorities to make the most of this additional time given to them, by strengthening plans in consultation with parents, enabling them to achieve national targets set in the government’s Welsh-medium education strategy,” she said.
Without definite action by local government, a target of 30 per cent of seven-year-olds receiving Welsh-medium education by the year 2020 will not be met, she said, with RhAG estimating that between 80 and 100 extra streams of 30 children will be required to achieve this.
“We need authorities to set clear targets, based on the vision that they have a duty now to not only meet demand but rather to promote growth,” said Ms Owen.
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