Thursday, 31 January 2019

Welsh Government education White Paper needs to be fleshed out.

I always worry when Welsh Government Minister s  come up with shake-ups of the school curriculum as it often ends up looking like that they feel that they need  to be seeing in doing something , rather than being able to carry it out.
A consultation begins as Education Minister Kirsty Williams unveils a white paper setting out her vision for the future of education in Wales.
The delayed proposals have already been criticised by education bosses as "poorly defined" and "weak".
But Ms Williams said they were "ambitious and far-reaching".
Her plan is based on an independent review conducted by Prof Graham Donaldson in 2015 which recommended a new curriculum focusing on literacy, numeracy and digital skills.
One of the controversial is that  Welsh would no longer be considered a second language in English-medium schools, with more opportunities to use the language.
Something that i would strongly support but as Siân Gwenllian, Plaid Cymru AM for Arfon points out in Nation Cymru
Excellent in principle. Most of us would agree that teaching Welsh as a second language has been ineffective in giving young people who do not speak the language at home the skills to use Welsh in everyday life.But the devil is in the detail.The There is already a shortage of Welsh-speaking teachers – the government said it was working to boost skills but that could take many years. Currently, around one-third of Welsh teachers speak Welsh, which is a good starting point.According to research commissioned by Plaid Cymru, this number will need to be at least doubled in order to realise the ambition of providing an education system that will produce a million Welsh speakers.Current strategies for attracting more teachers for the Welsh medium sector are neither sufficient nor comprehensive.Over the next ten years 3,000 teachers will need to be trained for the primary sector and 2,600 for the secondary sector so we can even begin to achieve the million Welsh speakers target.Does the Welsh Government have a plan on how to achieve this other than vague statements about providing intensive Welsh-language training to teachers and teaching assistants through a sabbatical scheme? I’m yet to be convinced.English-medium pupils will not necessarily be expected to meet the same standard as Welsh-medium students under the new curriculum.It is logical that the Welsh second language GCSE will ultimately need to go, but it is not clear yet how a single qualification for pupils across all schools would work. Lack of clarity around this is creating unnecessary worry among pupils, parents and teachers.

It has since emerged that  the lack of thinking of how to implement such a grandiose plan have been highlighted by concerns have been raised about the Welsh Government's plans to make English a compulsory subject for children in Welsh-medium nurseries.

.....Welsh teaching union Ucac said the proposal in the new Curriculum White Paper was "a serious concern".
Campaigners Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society) and Plaid Cymru have also raised concerns.
But ministers say Welsh language immersion will be a "key feature" of the draft curriculum out in April.
Currently, English is introduced incrementally from the age of seven in Welsh-medium schools.
Under the new proposals, English would be introduced to three-year-olds in "cylchoedd meithrin" settings, that is Welsh-medium playgroups.
The consultation document said it would be a "duty on all schools and funded nursery settings to teach English as a compulsory element of the new curriculum for Wales".
Rebecca Williams, Ucac deputy general secretary, wants clarification as soon as possible.
Allowing children to immerse themselves in the Welsh language has proved extremely effective at giving children from all linguistic backgrounds the skills to become fluent, she said.

"In a situation such as in Wales, where we have a minority language living alongside one of the world's most powerful languages, this has proven to be the most effective model," Ms Williams added.
"It gives learners a strong foothold in Welsh that they would probably not acquire otherwise, whilst also fully developing their English language skills."
She said the proposal threatened effective practice and was in direct conflict with Welsh Government policy to boost the number of Welsh speakers.

I suspect that in reality education minister   Kirsty Wiliams  and her advisers in their zeal  to be "doing something" have not looked hard enough into its implementations.

The idea of introducing English into Welsh Medium Nurseries, seems to so badly thought out that I suspect the minister may not even had realised that this would be the result of her White Paper.

There is much to praise in the ambition to move Welsh Education to be fully bilingual,  but  the Welsh Gove
rnment must surely give us much more details on how it should be delivered.

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