Assembly Member Siân Gwenllian, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, has unveiled proposals for new legislation which would strengthen the Welsh-medium education system.
Ms Gwenllian said that Plaid Cymru will start the process of introducing a Welsh Education Act within one hundred days of forming a government in 2021.
Ms Gwenllian was speaking ahead of launching a report which she commissioned from former WJEC Chief Executive Gareth Pierce at an event at the Eisteddfod Friday morning.
The report, Welsh in Education: strengthening through legislation, outlines how legislative changes to be introduced by a Plaid Cymru government would create a purposeful and integrated system – encompassing the early years and adult education – to ensure the best possible opportunity for Welsh citizens to become fluent in Welsh.
The work also looks at other high-level considerations, including workforce planning, transport to Welsh-medium schools, and childcare.
According to Ms Gwenllian, the legislation would aim to ‘normalise fluency’. She also said the current offering is ‘insufficient’.
According to Welsh Government figures, there is currently only a small annual growth of 0.05% in Welsh-medium education. In one county, Bridgend, not one new Welsh-medium primary school has opened in the last 30 years.
Ms Gwenllian warned that reaching the goal of one million speakers by 2050 would be impossible without legislating to ensure the provision of Welsh-medium education.
Sian Gwenllian AM, Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Arfon and Shadow Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, said:
“There is wide support for the goal of reaching one million Welsh speakers by 2050. The education system has a key role to place to create the growth that is needed and to make fluency in both our national languages the norm.
“A Welsh Education Act would ensure that everyone in Wales has the opportunity to receive Welsh-medium education, and this would be one of the main legislative priorities of the Plaid Cymru government after the 2021 election.
“The deficiencies of the current provision under the current Labour government are awful – they mean thousands of our children and young people aren’t able to access Welsh-medium education.
“Without legislating to solve the problem, the truth is that the goal of reaching a million speakers by 2050 will be impossible. Indeed, the Welsh Government’s own experts believe the current legislation is insufficient to reach the goal, and that new and comprehensive legislation is needed.
“Through this new law, Plaid Cymru will ensure that our citizens have the opportunity to develop skills in the Welsh language at every level as well as ensure the right to receive Welsh-medium education whatever a person’s age or background.”