Commenting on the report of the Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee Inquiry into Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESPs) which was published today, Aled Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for North Wales and the party’s spokesperson for Children, Young People and Education said:
“This report highlights yet again the fact that as far as the Welsh Labour Government is concerned, the existence of a strategy is absolutely no guarantee of it being put into practice.
“The WESPs were put on a statutory footing as part of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 with the intention that each local authority should assess the level of demand for Welsh medium education.
“The Committee heard a number of concerns which show that local authorities are failing to meet their obligations as far as Welsh medium provision is concerned; it is also apparent that the Welsh Government has not been prepared to intervene to make sure that youngsters are given the opportunity to be educated in Welsh.
“The Government’s policy has also failed to ensure that the plans adopted by each local authority contribute towards reaching our national target.
“Our Committee recommendations include the introduction of robust targets for each local authority to ensure that demand is properly assessed and met, along with a clear monitoring process which shows how each authority is working towards meeting its targets.
“We also heard from witnesses who raised concerns regarding school transport provision. Many students, particularly those accessing post-16 Welsh medium provision, have to travel long distances but there is a danger that decisions being taken by local authorities will lead to their transport services being discontinued.
“We also need to make sure that there are sufficient provisions in the Additional Learning Needs Bill to ensure that the needs of children in the Welsh medium sector are recognised.
“Despite legislation, the Welsh Labour Government’s commitment to our Welsh language continues to be superficial and we must do all we can to reverse that worrying trend”.