Friday 17 April 2009

They still don't get it

The row over the re-organisation of secondary education in Carmarthenshire continues to rumble on. At the heart of the row is the question of who is taking the decisions, with the ruling Labour/Independent administration trying to argue that they have no choice – they are only following the instructions of the Assembly Government.

As I've noted before, it's not easy to get to the bottom of this; the role of the Assembly Government appears to have been muddied somewhat by the participation of officials from the Education department in workshops and discussions with the county council, and the detail of what was said in those discussions is not public.

What I can say with certainty is that there is nothing in the published, official, advice from the Assembly Government which could possibly be interpreted as permission – let alone an instruction – for the county council to merge a predominantly English medium school with a school which delivers 80% of its instruction through the medium of Welsh. In that respect at least, the mantra of the ruling groups at county hall that they 'are only following orders' is demonstrable nonsense.

Underlying the whole situation, however, is an uneasy feeling that the people shaping education policy at both Assembly and County level don't really understand the concept of Welsh-medium education. They don't seem to understand either what it is, or why so many parents opt for it when given the choice. And this lack of understanding is endangering the future of the Welsh language in one of the most Welsh-speaking counties in Wales.

They seem to believe that a single school offering a choice of medium of instruction in all subjects is an acceptable and viable alternative. It is not, and parents who have spent years fighting for full Welsh-medium instruction will not accept such a proposal. Unless and until those responsible for shaping policy either develop the necessary level of understanding or are replaced, Carmarthenshire seems to be set for a major confrontation between policy-makers and parents.

No comments: