DOES Powys County Council’s (PCC) education service have a vision of how to teach the Welsh Language in its schools?

By the end of the month PCC will meet Estyn inspectors to discuss its Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) and will have to answer that question.

As they start their “journey to excellence” the Learning and Skills scrutiny committee will keep a close eye on the plan.

Committee chair, Cllr Peter Roberts (Liberal Democrat – Llandrindod South), said that the five recommendations from Estyn had been split up between councillors and school governors on the committee.

They will keep an eye on the developments in these areas over the coming months.

Recommendation Four: Ensure that the organisation of the provision for non-maintained post-16, Welsh medium education and secondary education meets the needs of the children and young people of Powys.

Cllr Davies said that there was potential for every child in Powys to be bilingual but that the last Welsh Education Strategic Plan (WESP) had failed.

Cllr Davies said: “I don’t want to blame anyone just move the debate onwards.

“We want all our pupils to reach their potential. And they have a potential to be fully bilingual.

“The provision needs to be there in both languages and we need the next WESP to touch on every part of education and not be tagged on at the end.”

Education portfolio holder, Cllr Phyl Davies (Conservative – Blaen Hafren), said:  “We are 100 per-cent committed to the WESP, it has to be done at the the same time as we’re doing the whole service.

“From my perspective, it’s not an add on but a huge integral part of the service review.”

Education consultant, Geraint Rees, added: “We’ve had two WESPs, the second WESP has not been realised.

“The curriculum and the way our teachers are being trained is all changing and there will be chances for teachers to be seconded or have sabbaticals to learn Welsh so that they can bring it to their schools.

“The next WESP will be looking forward to the next 10 years.

“We will need to have a big discussion about it, and when we discuss the language of provision, this will be a challenge all across Wales.

“But the aim of having children and young people who can speak several languages is part of the new curriculum and bilingualism is the foundation to achieving that.”

Cllr Davies said: “It’s good to hear this and I hope it happens.”

PCC priorities to answer this recommendations are:

  • Ensure that school organisation priorities (non-maintained, post-16, Welsh medium education) are integral to the wider reviews of all primary, secondary and special provision in the authority, and bring forward proposals at pace to deliver a cohesive vision for learners and schools in Powys.
  • Review the school organisation policy to ensure that all proposals utilise clear, agreed criteria for determining their level of priority.
  • Develop a new Welsh in Education Strategic Plan WESP and ensure that proposals are brought forward to deliver the priorities in that plan.
  • Agree the resources required within the council in order to be able to formulate coherent proposals, manage sustained stakeholder engagement and formal consultations and to see plans through to completion.
  • Ensure that elected members and key stakeholders are fully aware of the evidence base and the risks and benefits associated with different options.