To consider the contents of the progress report and offer observations
The report was submitted noting that the Head of Education Department would go through the seven outcomes that were part of the Strategic Plan in order to have a discussion on the fields.
Outcome 1 - More seven year old children educated through the medium of Welsh. The Head of Education Department stated that the target of 99.1% was a totally ambitious target and that the actual percentage was 97.9%. It was noted that one of the reasons for not reaching the target was children who were latecomers with no Welsh. It was added that one school in the Bangor catchment area had more linguistic independence as it was a religious school. Following new appointments to the school, it was noted that changes had been seen in the school's attitude towards the language.
Outcome 2 - More learners continuing to improve their Welsh language skills when transferring from primary to secondary school. It was noted that the percentage was low and was 83.4% compared with the target of 84.7%. It was stated that this was because of one secondary school in Bangor. It was stated that work was being undertaken with the school and that substantial improvement had been seen with an increase in the number of pupils using Welsh as their first language.
Outcomes 3 and 4 - More students aged 14-16 studying subjects through the medium of Welsh and More learners aged 14-19 studying subjects through the medium of Welsh in Schools, Colleges and through Work-based Learning.It was noted that there was encouraging data for the 14-19 pathway. It was noted that it was difficult to give a full quantification of how many sat their examinations through the medium of Welsh. In 2016-17, it was noted that 79% had registered to sit GCSE Welsh First Language. It was noted that the department continued to work with the schools to ensure conditional courses through the medium of Welsh.
Outcome 5 - More learners with higher skills in Welsh. It was noted that the first target - namely that 77.2% of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 achieved A* Grades in GCSE was a challenging target. It was stated that Gwynedd's percentage was higher than the percentage of many counties. It was stated there had been a drop in percentages this year which corresponded with the national drop in results. It was expressed that the results of this outcome corresponded with the county's investment in immersing young people in the language.
Outcome 6 – Welsh-medium Provision for Learners with Additional Learning Needs. It was noted that no targets were available for additional learning needs provision and that this was a result of the fact that bilingual provision was available for all pupils.
Outcome 7 - Workforce Planning and Continuous Professional Development. It was noted that this was a matter that had been raised specifically on a regional level. The reason being as a high quality workforce needed to be ensured in order to reach the target of a million Welsh speakers. It was stated that the skills of teachers needed to be improved and that schools needed to lead on increasing the use of Welsh. When the Secondary Language Charter and schools was discussed, it was noted that Ysgol Friars and Tywyn had been very proactive and had contributed much more towards the discussion. In Ysgol Tywyn, it was stated that exceptionally good work had been completed and that the Welsh language had trickled into the community through the plan.
Observations arising from the discussion
- It was enquired about the use of the language with parents who home schooled their children. On a national level, it was noted that the number of parents who home schooled their children had increased but that they continued to be a very low percentage.
- The Bangor catchment area was discussed in particular as re-structuring work was afoot, and it was enquired whether it would make a difference in terms of language for the religious school. As part of the re-structuring work it was stated that the children would tend to move to two other schools in Penrhosgarnedd.
- A discussion was held on the reduction in the number of children who were assessed through the medium of Welsh by Key Stage 3 - it was noted that the reason for this was one Secondary School in Bangor.
- It was noted that it would be a good idea to invite staff and pupils from Ysgol Tywyn to a meeting of the Welsh Language Committee to discuss how the Secondary Language Charter had gone further and had been able to change attitudes towards the language within the community. It was stated that the good practices within Ysgol Tywyn needed to be noted so that it would be possible to disseminate them to other schools across the county.
- It was discussed whether or not it would be possible to network with schools across Wales and not Gwynedd alone, as perhaps there was a need to share the county's good practices across Wales. It was stated that good practices were being shared on a regional level through GwE.
- It was noted that good work was being undertaken in schools and that statistics were exceptionally good. It was stated that Ysgol Dolbadarn had been graded as excellent in the five fields, and was one of two schools throughout Wales that had been graded as excellent in the field.
The report was accepted.