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Fresh doubts are raised over teaching of Welsh.

School inspectors have raised fresh doubts over the way Welsh is taught in schools. In-service training to help pupils learn Welsh or study in the language needs improving, a report from Estyn warns. It is the second Estyn report in a month to raise fears over how well Welsh is taught in schools. Earlier this month Estyn warned that Welsh was being taught so badly as a second language in some schools that pupils had scant hope of becoming bilingual.

As reported in the Western Mail, some GCSE pupils get just one hour of Welsh as a second language a fortnight.

Now Estyn has found that a special training programme run by the WJEC is helping Welsh-language teaching, but in-service training run by the WJEC is not working well.

Local authority staff and teachers said training they did with the WJEC had helped them to support pupils who are studying Welsh or through the medium of Welsh.

The WJEC national training programmes for Welsh-medium and Welsh language provision have a dedicated professional development officer and a steering group. The programmes help share good practice and knowledge and set a strategy throughout Wales, inspectors found.

But the in-service training programme for Welsh-medium teaching "is not as fully developed and is not always as influential at a national level as the Welsh language in-service training programme", the report warned.

Estyn is now recommending that the WJEC improves the Welsh-medium in-service training programme.

"The Welsh Assembly Government should continue to provide the Better Schools Fund for WJEC Welsh language and Welsh-medium training programmes," Chief Inspector Susan Lewis said in her report.

"Close partnership between WJEC, local authorities and schools will be vital in ensuring continued improvement in the effectiveness of these programmes."

She said councils were using money provided for training well.

The grant also funds the planning of four annual conferences. Most delegates told inspectors that the conferences were good or very good, but there was not enough formal analysis of the impact of this training on raising standards, Ms Lewis warned.

"Inspectors have found that there is work to be done in measuring the overall success of the training programmes.

"Currently there is no common format across authorities to gather the views of staff and there are limited formal procedures to evaluate the work of individual trainers.

"Estyn recommends that WJEC should itself evaluate the training programmes as well as work with local authorities to see how successful the programmes are in improving standards.

"High-quality training resources have been developed by WJEC to support these programmes. Teachers and advisers value the materials, which help to spread good practice nationally.

"Estyn recommends that WJEC continues to work closely with local authorities to ensure that the materials remain fit for purpose."

Last week an Institute of Welsh Affairs conference heard that more needed to be done to help teachers balance the needs of Welsh learners and fluent Welsh speakers in Welsh-medium schools. The Welsh Language Board told the conference in Cardiff that schools did more to promote and secure the language than homes, as growing numbers of pupils with Welsh as a second language attend Welsh-medium schools. But the growth in pupils learning Welsh meant teachers had to address widely differing ranges of ability and aptitude, the conference heard.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 25, 2007
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