A 10-year strategy to boost the number of children and young people learning through the medium of Welsh in Caerdydd schools has been revealed by Caerdydd Council.
The strategy, designed to help the Welsh Government realise its target of having one million Welsh speakers in Cymru by 2050, will now go to public consultation before being submitted to Welsh Government for approval in January 2022.
A key target set by Welsh Government is for Caerdydd to ensure that 25-29% of Year 1 learners are educated through the medium of Welsh by 2032. Currently 18% of Year 1 leaners are taught through Welsh. By 2050, across Cymru, the Welsh Government expects 40% of children to be educated through Welsh and 50% of children educated through English to be able to speak Welsh.
Following discussions with school leaders and other education stakeholders, a draft Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) 2022-2032 has been prepared by Caerdydd Council for public consultation.
Caerdydd Council's Cabinet member for Education and Lifelong Learning, Cllr Sarah Merry, said: "The vision for the capital is to develop a bilingual Cardiff where the Welsh language is a vibrant living language. We will seek to do this by increasing Welsh medium education provision sustainably towards the targets set out in Cymraeg 2050. Our plan reflects our ambition that every young person has the opportunity to hear, speak and enjoy Welsh. It is hoped that this will allow young people to fully embrace the language as part of our national fabric and recognise its place at the heart of Cardiff, Wales's capital city."
Achieving the WESP targets of pupils taught in Welsh-medium schools increasing from 18% in 2021 to 25-29% in 2032 will require increased numbers of Welsh-medium places across Caerdydd.
The strategy, which will run from 2022-2032, includes a number of interventions to boost the language, including:
Grow our primary and secondary provision, which supports Welsh Government's target of one million Welsh speakers in Cymru by 2050;
Supporting current provision and stimulating more demand for Welsh-medium education across the city;
Working with partners and the Welsh Education Forum to provide a strong foundation for the Welsh language to grow and thrive within Caerdydd.
Invigorating the promotion of education opportunities through Welsh (from early years through maintained education and into further and higher education);
Working with parents to understand the influencing factors in choosing a school for their child(ren);
Continuing to support Immersion provision for latecomers to the language within Caerdydd so that Welsh medium education can be explored as an option available to all families;
Working to support increased diversity within Welsh-medium— ensuring that all families in Caerdydd are aware it is an available choice for their child and see their local school as a reflection of their community and the city;
Increasing the number of fluent Welsh speaking teaching and learning staff to support growth and continued commitment to delivering excellent Welsh-medium education and Welsh teaching in Caerdydd schools.
Cllr Merry, said: "We look forward to engaging with the public on these plans. We want to continue to grow demand for Welsh-medium education and our renewed vision for education and learning in Cardiff makes a clear and unequivocal commitment to provide more Welsh-medium school places. We have already taken great strides forward in this area opening new Welsh medium schools across the city and making more pupil places available in existing schools.
"We are intent on ensuring places are available to all families who choose a Welsh-medium education in Cardiff and we are keen for parents to fully welcome the opportunities that being bilingual in Wales can bring for their children from birth to adulthood. There's little doubt people are becoming more aware of the benefits of a bilingual education, but there is work still to do to ensure each and every family has the knowledge to make a fully informed decision and feel confident to choose Welsh-medium for their children. Our Welsh Immersion Unit has a proven track record for helping families moving into Cardiff or choosing to move from English-medium to Welsh-medium education partway through their child's education journey, but we need to continue to work on promoting support which is available for parents whose children are learning through Welsh.
"Finally, we must remain mindful of the needs of all of our current schools as we increase Welsh medium provision. By increasing provision in a strategic way, taking account of current population and birth rate projections - which are predicting an initial fall in pupil numbers up to 2024 - we looking to ensure that all our schools are on a strong financial footing and that all existing Welsh-medium schools remain viable."