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Mathemateg Bellach
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A missed opportunity for the Welsh language and ALN
(18-12-2015)

Welsh-medium provision should be a core element of the Welsh Government’s proposed new legislation for Additional Learning Needs and not a marginal consideration which it is at present.

This is a call being made by Welsh teachers union UCAC (Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru) and Parents for Welsh-medium education (RhAG) in response to the consultation on the Draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill, which closes on December 18th.
Furthermore the organisations maintain that language should be recognised as a fundamental need and enshrined as a basic principle on the face of the Bill, thus establishing the right to choose and access provision and support services in Welsh.

Lynne Davies, RhAG National Chairperson said, "The Welsh Government’s national policy is to increase opportunities to access Welsh-medium education by expanding the provision. While there has been growth in Welsh medium and bilingual education, there is no evidence of similar growth in the provision for children and young people with additional educational needs.

"It is astonishing that such key issues relating to the Welsh language are missing in the Bill and its accompanying documents. Any efforts to establish a system that is more inclusive and holistic in its approach through these legislative proposals, is immediately undermined due to a lack of recognition of the linguistic context in Wales.

"We believe that drafting new and much needed legislation in this area provides an opportunity to set a baseline that would establish the principle of a right for pupils with additional learning difficulties to access provision in accordance with the language preference of the parent. We call on the Government not to waste this opportunity, by re-examining the current draft to ensure that Welsh-medium ALN provision ceases to be based on a postcode lottery."

Elaine Edwards, UCAC's General Secretary said "We are shocked and disappointed that the draft Bill fails to make a single reference to the Welsh language. Consequently, the Bill in its current form stands no chance of tackling the systemic problems in terms of Welsh-medium provision that face children and young people with Additional Learning Needs.

"Although there is much to welcome in the Bill, it will not be possible for UCAC to give the draft legislation its backing unless there is acknowledgement of the fundamental principle of equal treatment for the English and Welsh languages."

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