Neath Port Talbot Local Authority Borough Council recognises that language and culture are critical parts of an individual's identity and is committed to promoting and ensuring meaningful access to Welsh language learning for pupils across all phases and sectors.
Our vision for improving the planning and thus increasing the provision of Welsh medium education in Neath Port Talbot will facilitate the national vision for the Welsh language, to secure 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050. We share the Welsh Government’s vision:
...to secure favourable circumstances throughout the country that support language acquisition and use of Welsh language skills. We want to see an increase in language transmission in the family, early introduction of Welsh to every child, an education system that provides Welsh language skills for all
Cymraeg 2050 – A million Welsh speakers (Welsh Government, 2017)
In Neath Port Talbot we will enable all learners, families and carers to develop their Welsh language skills and to use the language confidently in everyday life. Welsh-medium education is an integral and essential part of the learning offer in Neath Port Talbot. We believe that all children should benefit from the opportunity to learn, appreciate and shape their lives through the medium of Welsh. The authority underpins this principle by committing to enabling all learners to benefit from its universal access to this provision.
Our Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) 2022-32, will be the cornerstone for this vision and will detail how we plan to support and further develop Welsh language education in schools and in the wider communities and how we plan for future growth. The plan details how we will secure further development over the next 10 years, January 2022 - January 2032. It aligns itself to:
- The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015
- 'A Wales of Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh Language'
- Prosperity for All: the national strategy and the programme for Government, Taking Wales forward 2016-2021
- Welsh Government’s national Welsh language strategy ‘Cymraeg 2050: A million Welsh speakers by 2050’
- Education in Wales: Our National Mission, Action Plan 2017-21-
A desire for learners to become increasingly bilingual and commitments to encourage teachers with some ability to speak Welsh to further develop their skills
- The Welsh in Education, Action Plan 2017-21
Sets the direction for the development of Welsh-medium education
- Neath Port Talbot Welsh Language Promotion Strategy
Our statutory education system has a vital role to play in increasing the number of Welsh speakers and, as highlighted by Welsh Government’s Cymraeg 2050 Strategy, “post-compulsory education and training providers have a key role to play in sustaining learners’ Welsh language skills to meet the growing need for a bilingual workforce”. In order to achieve our goals, we must significantly increase the number of school learners who have the opportunity to develop Welsh-language skills in all settings and thus use it in their everyday lives.
Welsh Government have set a target for Neath Port Talbot to increase the number of learners accessing Welsh-medium education of between 17% and 27% over a 10 year period. This target is based on increasing the number of Year 1 children taught through the medium of Welsh from 16.8% (252 pupils) in 2020/21 (PLASC 2021) to 31% (460 pupils) by 2032. Our ambitious plan is to exceed the upper range of the target set by Welsh Government.
Current trends and projected forecasts.
The overarching 10 year target is set as a result of a geographic and demographic assessment. The analysis tells us:
- The number of children within the zero age cohort gradually increased in the early 2000s but this process has now flattened out and returned to the lower levels previously seen at the beginning of the period.
- The three year average number of individuals within this cohort in 2017-19 is 1,436, which is 5.9% down on the level seen a decade earlier when the three year average for 2007-09 was 1,526 (90 individual per year higher).
- The age five cohort has displayed considerable growth over the last decade with the three year average 15.2% higher for this age group during 2017-19 than compared to 2007-09 (up from 1390 to 1601). This is in contrast with older age cohorts with the number of 15 year olds present within the County Borough seeing a sustained fall over the last 15 years, with the number in this age group now 17.7% lower than a decade earlier.
County level population chart
The above data shows a decrease in zero age population, however, an analysis of factors which will impact on the future of Welsh medium education has showed a projected plateauing in the school age population and a potential to substantially increase the number of Welsh medium learners within the next 10 years. The factors taken into consideration when conducting the assessment included population change, population density, population composition, existing Welsh language skills, current Welsh-medium learners and potential additional demand for Welsh-medium education.
The data from the assessment shows that some areas within the Local Authority are showing significant population growth in the under 19 category with one showing a population increase of 76.6% from a three year average of 475 in 2002-04 to 839 in 2017-19. The three year average for this area of 839 makes this the largest in terms of absolute population for this age group.
Analysis of the data shows that the strategic plan will require a proactive and reactive approach to include:
- establishing new Welsh-medium schools in areas where the demand for Welsh-medium education is identified
- creating a demand for Welsh-medium education in new geographical areas
Achieving the Vision
In order to deliver the WESP our main objectives are:
- to bring forward a proposal to create a further 3 Welsh medium primary schools within the ten year plan
- to increase the transfer rates between pre-school and Welsh-medium school-based provision by 80% during the lifetime of the plan: we will deliver an action plan in conjunction with providers such as Mudiad Meithrin
- to ensure increased transition rates from Welsh-medium primary schools to Welsh-medium secondary schools with the aim of securing 100% transition rate per year
- to establish later entry point linguistic support for pupils wishing access to Welsh Medium Education through latecomer immersion provision for both primary and secondary learners as outlined in Outcome 2
- to ensure that Welsh language provision across all Welsh and English medium settings provides pupils with the skills and ability to become confident and sustained speakers of Welsh
- to ensure that post 16 provision through the medium of Welsh is strengthened and thus meets the needs and aspirations of all students
- to maintain the availability of transport in line with the approved council travel policy in order to promote access to Welsh-medium provision
- to ensure that children and young people with ALN receive linguistic equality of opportunity in terms of Welsh-medium education and support in accordance with the duties imposed by the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018.
- to ensure that access, locally or regionally, to professional training to support the development of effective Welsh teaching and learning which responds to the identified needs of those working in both the English and Welsh-medium sectors
- to recognise Welsh as being essential in role specifications when recruiting all school-based staff; we will clearly outline our expectations in terms of skill-level requirement (from Level 0 to 3) and provide in-house training to support staff development
- to ensure that the WESP Forum has clear objectives to enable it to deliver the outcomes effectively
These main objectives are discussed in detail on the following pages, with a brief summary of the current position and our proposals for the duration of the WESP.