Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Welsh Government backtrack on compulsory English in cylchoedd meithrin

It seem my theory that the controversial  proposals which suggested English would be made a compulsory subject for children in Welsh-medium nurseries was largely due to a cock up rather than a conspiracy may be correct .

I wrote at the time that

"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.

The BBC report that 

The Welsh Government has backtracked on proposals which suggested English would be made a compulsory subject for children in Welsh-medium nurseries.
Last week Welsh teaching union Ucac said the proposal in the new Curriculum White Paper was "a serious concern".
But now the government has said the wording was not an accurate reflection of its intentions.
It has acknowledged the "unintended consequences".
Ministers have also pledged to ensure any new law will make clear that language immersion can continue.
Currently, English is introduced incrementally from the age of seven in Welsh-medium schools.
Under the new proposals set out in a consultation last week, English would be introduced to three-year-olds in "cylchoedd meithrin" or 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".

In a statement, the Welsh Government said on reflection that statement

"does not reflect our intention" and would have "unintended consequences" for Welsh-medium schools and nurseries who apply immersion as the teaching model."To be absolutely clear, our proposal is the new curriculum will still enable schools and settings, such as cylchoedd meithrin, to fully immerse children in the Welsh language," it added.
Ucac has welcomed the clarification.
The union's general secretary Rebecca Williams said:

"The unanimity and ferocity of the response from parents and organisations proves the value of immersion as an approach that creates bilingual citizens. It also emphasises the need for constant vigilance, and the importance of scrutiny and protest within a democratic system."We look forward now to responding to the detail of the proposals which should see our curriculum moving forward to a new and pioneering era."'Lack of faith for the future'
Siân Gwenllian AM, Plaid Cymru's shadow minisiter for education and Welsh language said: 
"The fact that such a clause has been included in the first place raises serious questions about the credibility and integrity of this government's education department and its education minister.
"This mess is a sign of a lack of basic understanding learning within government about the necessities of minority language teaching."It does not generate a lot of faith for the future, given the key part the department is expected to play is to plan the growth of Welsh-medium education as part of the government's goal to create a million Welsh speakers by 2050."
Quite right such a clause would have gone against the very ethos of  "cylchoedd meithrin"  especially for those pupils who had non Welsh speaking families.

It make you think whether other parts of the White Paper have not been thought  through.

One of the main criticisms of all political parties election manifestos is that although they usually claim that they have been fully costed , they have not been fully thought out and reflect an "ambition" rather than intent.

But once in power politicians should be careful of making huge aspirations without also giving clear details on how these will be carried out.

Far to often this has been the story of Welsh Labour in the Assembly and it is ironic that in this case the minister responsible is Kirsty Williams a Liberal Democrat in "Not a coalition " who previously  from the opposition benches  would have been one of the most vocal in exposing this.

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