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Universities say too few training to teach Welsh; EDUCATION: Strategy 'stalling'.

Byline: TOBY MASON

A LACK of Welsh-medium teachers could stall the development of the language, it has been claimed.

The Universities Council for the Education of Teachers in Wales (Ucet Cymru) warned yesterday that there were teacher shortages in the Welsh-medium sector.

It raises worrying questions about the future expansion of the language.

In its submission to the National Assembly's Education Committee, Ucet Cymru said, "We believe that achieving the strategy set out in the WLB document is reliant upon a healthy supply of well-trained and educated teachers.

"Despite strong partnership working between the ITET sector, schools, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Assembly we continue to face difficulties in recruiting and retaining sufficient teachers for the teaching of Welsh - particularly as a second language and Welsh-medium teaching.

"Work recently undertaken by the General Teaching Council for Wales has demonstrated the extent of these difficulties in the secondary sector.

"In our view the GTC should seek to improve the data collection it undertakes in relation to the Welshmedium proficiency of the current teaching force, regularly monitor the outcomes of this and report on its findings to the Assembly and other appropriate bodies.

"Through the Cynllun Colegau Cymru/Welsh Colleges Scheme, HEIs in Wales has worked closely and successfully with HEFCW and the Assembly in providing opportunities for primary ITET students to learn/develop their proficiency in Welsh, so as to meet the needs of second language primary schools in Wales."

Although the University of Wales colleges of Bangor and Aberystwyth and Trinity College Carmarthen have a special mission to provide Welsh medium courses, all ITET institutions attempt to make some provision.

But the Ucet submission says, "It is, however, variable in extent and is generally curtailed by considerations such as the viability of teaching groups and the availability of suitably qualified staff.

"Wherever possible students who wish to undertake their school experience in Welsh-medium schools are able to do so.

"There are funding concerns in relation to these matters, which the sector has long pursued with the HEFCW and the Assembly and which the Committee has recognised in its recent report on the future of HE in Wales."

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Wales also gave evidence to the committee yesterday, and said that the Assembly should give greater emphasis to ensuring a child's learning experience began at home.

Eiddwen Jones, from ATL Wales, said, "The young child's first experience of language is within the home environment.

"We therefore believe that investment of resources and enhanced opportunities for parents and guardians to learn Welsh before and during the period when their child is under five years of age is a priority."

Continuation of language THE Welsh language education pressure group Rhieni Dros Addysg Gymraeg (Rhag) say the success of Welsh-medium education has been the critical factor in the continued existence of the Welsh language and this is likely to continue to be true.

They point out that in the counties of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthen the majority of Welsh-medium primary schools are the schools of a town or a village and form part of the educational system which is offered as the first choice to pupils.

But they warn that in other counties, including parts of Conway, Denbigh, Flint, Powys and Pembroke- shire (particularly the north), a number of the Welsh-medium schools are "natural Welsh-medium schools" but are very susceptible to Anglicisation.

CAPTION(S):

BEDROCK: Classes like this science lesson at Ysgol Gymraeg Y Login Fach, Swansea, are a 'critical factor' for Welsh's survival Picture: Tony Paradice
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 14, 2002
Words:593
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