On Monday, July 4th, the Cyngor iaith (Language Council) students along with Mrs Luned Davies Parry, Bilingualism Co-ordinator, welcomed the Governors to the school to launch the Siarter Iaith Uwchradd (Secondary Schools Language Charter). The Cyngor Iaith students gave a presentation to and asked the Governors for their ideas to promote Welshness at school and asked them for their support.
It’s with pleasure that we announce that Ysgol Aberconwy will be trialling the Siarter Iaith Uwchradd on behalf of Conwy County schools and we can’t wait to start! To begin with let’s start with giving you some background information and explain its context.
The Siarter Iaith Welsh Language Charter was created in Gwynedd 2011-12 led by Carys Lake who at the time was a Leader at Gwynedd Secondary Welsh Language Centre to increase the use of Welsh in and beyond the classroom. The journey of trialing it began in Gwynedd County in 2014. The Siarter Iaith was introduced to Welsh medium primary schools and Cymraeg Campus was introduced to English medium schools. It was a huge success!
The Welsh Government aims to have a million Welsh speakers by 2050. This is a long-term aim, and the education system has a key role to play in achieving it and the Siarter Iaith feeds into that.
In order to achieve the aim, it will be necessary to increase the number of learners in Welsh-medium and bilingual education, and to make changes to the curriculum to ensure that all learners in Wales are able to develop their Welsh-language skills for social and work use in the future.
One of the key aims within the 2050 Welsh Strategy is to establish positive practices in the use of the language, as well as formal and informal opportunities to use Welsh socially.
The strategy states that there is a need to plan provision for children and young people that not only give them the opportunity to use or practise Welsh, but who is immersed in positive attitudes in terms of the language, which will mean that they decide to use it, helping them to see that it is not just related to the school, but that there is a rich social and cultural world involved.
The Welsh in Education Strategic Plan sets out the steps that need to develop the Welsh language and Welsh medium provision in the statutory education system, and in particular as part of the new curriculum which will include a single continuum for learning Welsh.
The teaching and learning of Welsh is a priority for the Welsh Government. They want to ensure that our education system makes it possible for more learners to acquire a wider range of language skills in Welsh. There is a need to build children and young people’s confidence to use the language not only in lessons but also in activities and outside the classroom. We need to ensure appropriate emphasis is given on the Welsh language and culture.
The new Curriculum for Wales which will commence for our year 7 learners in September 2022, gives sufficient opportunity for learners to develop and use their Welsh language. The New Curriculum embraces a bilingual Wales in an international context.
What is Estyn looking for when inspecting schools?
They will be considering students’ ability to speak and respond to spoken Welsh, taking into account students’ starting points.
They will be looking at the progress students make in developing their communication skills in Welsh through their learning across the curriculum and in more informal contexts.
In addition, the inspectors will evaluate the extent to which school leaders plan purposeful opportunities for students to develop their Welsh language skills. They will also be looking at how well Ysgol Aberconwy promotes the advantages of learning Welsh and being multilingual.
The Siarter Iaith’s targets and outcomes challenge us at Ysgol Aberconwy to improve the Welsh on show around school and how much Welsh is heard around the school and to increase the opportunities for the students to see and hear the language. It challenges us to increase the bilingual provision and to give students opportunities to use their Welsh skills in the different subjects. We need to teach students about their Welsh identity and about ‘belonging’ and we at Ysgol Aberconwy want them to know the important, famous and talented Welsh people across the centuries. Above all, we need to promote the importance of the Welsh language in the workplace.
In order to support the three awards of the Siarter Iaith Uwchradd, Ysgol Aberconwy has started a new system in order to challenge and award teachers and departments for using Welsh in the lessons and for encouraging students to use their Welsh skills outside their Welsh lessons and we award mentors and administrative staff too. Our system also meets the requirements of Conwy policies: ‘Welsh in Education Strategic Plan’ and ‘A Strategy for Promoting the Welsh Language’.
There are three awards to win over three years. They have been split into three levels to support the needs of the three levels of award which is a part of the Siarter Iaith Uwchradd. We have used local landmarks as a symbol to reaching our goals ‘Croesi’r Bont i Wobr Efydd’ (Crossing the Bridge to a Bronze Award), ‘Esgyn y Grisiau i Wobr Arian’ (Ascending the Steps to Silver Award) and ‘Dringo’r Mynydd i Wobr Aur’ (Climbing the Mountain to a Gold Award) – the bridge, the castle walls and Mynydd y Dref Conwy.