1. About ATL Cymru

1.1 ATL Cymru, the education union, is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing teachers, head teachers, lecturers and support staff in maintained and independent nurseries, schools, sixth form, tertiary and further education colleges in Wales. AMiE is the trade union and professional association for leaders and managers in colleges and schools, and is a distinct section of ATL. We recognise the link between education policy and members' conditions of service.

2. Our response

2.1 ATL Cymru responded to the consultation on the Welsh language strategy. This is a summary of some key issues raised in our response.

2.2 We strongly believe that the education system is key to helping achieve 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050. Children and young people need the opportunities in school, college and university to learn, use and extend their knowledge of the Welsh language. Adults also need those same opportunities to ensure Welsh becomes a language which is used every day.

2.3 However, without clear funding commitment for Continued Professional Development for current teachers, lecturers and support staff, the current workforce will not be able to learn or improve their Welsh language skills.

2.4 Changes to Initial teacher education[1] (ITE) will not meet the needs of the current workforce. Cuts to the funding for adult and community learning over recent years[2] mean that the current workforce needs opportunities to learn Welsh too.

3. The FE sector

3.1 Our members highlight that the FE sector and vocational courses face additional challenges in providing courses through the medium of Welsh. The nature of vocational courses can mean that lecturers come from professional backgrounds and may not have a lecturing background. Filling vacancies within FE and vocational courses can be a challenging in general terms.

4. Education reform agenda

4.1 Education professionals in Wales face many reforms in the coming years. These include (but are not limited to):

-        the new Curriculum for Wales;

-        changes to professional standards;

-        changes to the qualifications system;

-        changes to additional learning needs (ALN) provision;

-        the New Deal, or professional learning offer;

-        digital competency framework;

-        literacy and numeracy framework;

-        changes to categorisation

4.2 Whilst we would agree that changes to the education system do need to happen, we believe that the workload for education professionals must be closely monitored to ensure that the reforms do not have a detrimental impact on staff.

4.3 It is within the context of the above reforms that we would highlight the need for the education sector to have the opportunities to develop their use of the Welsh language in schools and colleges, and enable future generations of children and young people the opportunities to use and develop their Welsh.

5. Other information

5.1 For further information on the use of the Welsh language please note the Education Workforce Council (EWC) gathers data on the numbers of its registrants who speak Welsh.

5.2 Please find our full response to the Welsh Government consultation on the Welsh Language Strategy here.

5.3 Please find our response to the consultation on Initial Teacher Education here.

Mary van den Heuvel
Policy Officer, ATL Cymru

[1] https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/initial-teacher-education-accreditation

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-25755799