Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet has approved plans that will expand the specialist support to immerse children in the Welsh language.
The new immersion education system will see a £1.1 million investment in new facilities in Tywyn and Bangor, as well as improving resources at Porthmadog.
The aim is to build on the work that has been in place in Gwynedd for decades. The Council will offer learners a "modern immersion education system" in order to develop their Welsh language skills "so that they succeed and thrive in our schools and become confident bilingual speakers".
Councillor Cemlyn Rees Williams, Gwynedd Council's Cabinet Member for Education, said: “There is no doubt that we in Gwynedd have led the way over the past decades in ensuring that children and young people who move to the county acquire the Welsh language and succeed in integrating into Gwynedd’s bilingual education system.
“I am delighted that Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet has supported a long-term vision that builds on this innovative work and the invaluable contribution of Gwynedd’s language centres have made over the years [...]
“The aim now is to develop a state-of-the-art immersion system and prioritise the needs of learners and ensure that the system is suitable for years to come. The new system will enable pupils to develop Welsh language skills, succeeding and thriving in our schools and becoming confident bilingual speakers.
“We have very exciting plans that will ensure pupils benefit from the best possible support and experiences. We will now move ahead with the important detailed work on the proposals to introduce new modern facilities in the Bangor and Tywyn areas.
“Through this work, the Council will invest £1.1 million in new facilities in these two areas which are key to the vision of ensuring that we strengthen the position of the Welsh language throughout the county.
“As part of the plans, we will also be improving provision at other locations across the county, ensuring opportunities for more pupils to benefit from this support.”
The new-look immersion system will:
promote the achievement and wellbeing of Gwynedd's newcomers to acquire the Welsh language;
support learners who need an extra boost to increase their confidence / skills in Welsh at school;
extend the immersion provision to more learners;
equip and support the Gwynedd school workforce to implement the principles of immersion education in the Foundation Phase;
provide guidance, support and resources to the Gwynedd school workforce to enable them to support learners to make further progress in terms of their confidence / skills in Welsh;
help parents and guardians to understand the value of Welsh-medium education and help them support their children.
As part of the plans, £1.1 million of Welsh Government Welsh medium education capital grant will be used "to ensure a first class learning environment, and state-of-the-art facilities for new entrants". The intention is for the new system and facilities to be in place by September 2022.