Wales: slowdown in language schools

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Jan 27 14:37:34 UTC 2007

Slowdown in language schools

Aled Blake
Published: 26 January 2007

There are not enough Welsh-medium schools to meet current demand Lack of
Welsh-medium expansion is blamed on poor provision The number of children
being taught at Welsh-medium primary schools last year rose by only 75
extra pupils, new Assembly government figures reveal. But Welsh-language
parents pressure group Rhieni Dros Addysg Gymraeg (RHAG) has been quick to
blame the apparent stagnation in the sector on a lack of provision. It
says that space at overcrowded schools is fast running out. Its views are
backed by the findings of a survey by Newport council that shows 31 per
cent of parents in Newport county would probably send their children to a
Welsh-medium school if there was one less than two miles from their home.

Overcrowding is seen as a particular problem at Welsh-language schools in
Cardiff, while English-speaking peers suffer from surplus places. The
statistics show there were 52,867 pupils in 458 Welsh-medium primaries in
2006. The proportion of primary pupils taught in classes where Welsh is
predominant has increased from 19.6 per cent in 2005 to 20.1 per cent in
2006. At secondary level there has been a rise from 14.8 per cent to 15.2
per cent. The proportion of Year 7 pupils being taught Welsh as a first
language increased from 15.5 per cent in 2005 to 16.7 per cent in 2006.
Tim Pearce, of RHAG, said: Until there are more places, the sector cannot
grow properly. He called on local education authorities to improve
transport to Welsh-medium schools and ensure that it remains free.

A parent who would prefer their child to have such an education may opt
for the local English school because the Welsh one is much further away,
he said. The more Welsh-medium education is available, the more people
choose it. In Cardiff, four new Welsh-medium starter classes will run from
September.  Under its Welsh-language document Iaith Pawb, the Assembly
government wants 26 per cent of the population to be Welsh-speaking by


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