7. Statement by the Minister for Education and Welsh Language: Welsh in Education Planning

Part of the debate – in the Senedd at 5:25 pm on 31 January 2023.

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Photo of Samuel Kurtz Samuel Kurtz Conservative 5:25, 31 January 2023

As has been established, Welsh in education strategic plans are a Welsh Government mechanism in place to ensure that all 22 local authorities are taking decisions in the interests of the Welsh Government's own objectives and targets, in this case, 'Cymraeg 2050'. Local authorities submit their WESPs to Welsh Government, who decide if they are satisfactory or not. Once deemed satisfactory, the local authority then implements that WESP. But should they fail to deliver the WESP, then Welsh Government posses no ability to intervene and direct that authority in the right direction. Because of this, what hopes do the Welsh Government have of achieving 'Cymraeg 2050' if WESPs are seen, sometimes, as a box-ticking exercise by local authorities, with no obligation to deliver upon them?

I appreciate, Minister, that you intend to bring forward a Welsh language Act and are having active discussions with Plaid Cymru as part of the co-operation agreement, but the current relationship between Welsh Government, its policies and local authorities is not producing the results we all want to see. Whilst local authorities are coming up with WESPs, there's no way for Welsh Government to ensure that WESP journey is completed.

When we make targets such as 'Cymraeg 2050' and policies such as WESPs, we have to ensure that local authorities, further education colleges, early years learning and third sector organisations all fit within a whole pathway of support and consultation. In part, this is already somewhat being done. The coleg Cymraeg is already working on ensuring that further and higher education provision is being provided through the medium of Welsh within specific and targeted sectors. But this isn't captured within local authorities' Welsh in education strategic plans because the coleg Cymraeg only provide oversight for the whole post-16 provision. As a result of this, will the Minister reassess the WESP framework to ensure that it encapsulates all 22 local authorities' entire Welsh language provision, including all sectors of education?