Councillors in Neath Port Talbot have been given a positive update on the authority’s Welsh In Education Strategic Plan (WESP) 2022 – 2032 which sets out its vision to support and further develop Welsh language education in schools and wider communities.
Welcoming progress on the plan, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Early Years, Cllr Nia Jenkins, said: “The council’s WESP 2022-32 will be the cornerstone for the council’s vision for increasing and improving the planning of the provision of Welsh medium education across Neath Port Talbot.
“It will enable all learners to develop their Welsh language skills and to use the language confidently in everyday life. It both complements and assists in facilitating the Welsh Government’s national vision for the Welsh language – to have a million Welsh speakers by 2050.”
During the update on 23/11/23, members of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Education, Skills and Wellbeing Cabinet Board were told the WESP has been developed through close working with partners including Neath Port Talbot schools, Menter Iaith, RhAG, Mudiad Meithrin, Neath Port Talbot College, Academi Hywel Dda Swansea University, the Urdd and with Welsh Government.
Cllr Jenkins added: “This council recognises that language and culture are critical parts of an individual’s identity and is committed to promoting and celebrating Welsh language learning across all phases and sectors.”
Key achievements in Neath Port Talbot over the last year include:
- More nursery children/3 year olds, reception class children/5-year-olds receiving their education through the medium of Welsh and more children continuing to improve their Welsh language skills when transferring from one stage of their statutory education to another.
- More learners studying for assessed qualifications in Welsh (as a subject) and subjects through the medium of Welsh, more opportunities for learners to use Welsh in different contexts in school and an increase in Welsh-medium education provision for learners with additional learning needs.
- Increasing the number of teaching staff able to teach Welsh (as a subject) and to teach through the medium of Welsh.
- Welsh-medium/ bilingual childcare – new Welsh-medium childcare facilities have opened/expanded in YGG Tregeles, YGG Tyle’r Ynn, YGG Pontardawe and YGG Cwmllynfell and a further two settings will open imminently in YGG Trebannws and Neath Central.
- Work on a new-build Welsh-medium/ bilingual childcare facility in Blaendulais and Cwmafan is under way and will be completed in 2024, along with the opening of a new childcare provision in Neath Central (new Leisure Centre) significantly increasing the current childcare places within these areas. As a result of the expansion and refurbishment of the childcare settings, an additional 94 places will have been created.
- A New Welsh-medium school – Ysgol Gymraeg Tregeles – a new Welsh medium 3-11 primary school, opened in January 2023 in the Neath Abbey area. Currently the school is open to Nursery and Reception pupils. Phase 2 of remodelling works is near completion (kitchen refurbishment and 2 Foundation Phase classrooms).
- Due to NPT Council’s success in the Sustainable Schools Challenge a new Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Rhosafan will be built in the next three years. The project will demonstrate an exemplar commitment towards environmental sustainability and stakeholder engagement throughout all stages of the design, build and operation of a new build Welsh-medium school.
- Y Cwm immersion unit, located in YGG Pontardawe, has been successfully established providing Welsh language immersion and Welsh language ’catch-up’ intervention for three cohorts of pupils (total of 49 pupils, 12 late-comers and 37 language intervention/ catch-up pupils) throughout the year.
- Welsh-medium Additional Learning Needs Provision – NPT Council has created a steering group for the development of inclusive Welsh medium education.