Schools in Wales are asking Welsh-speaking teachers in England to return home, due to concerns that the lack of native-speaker teachers will affect the long term recovery of the Welsh language.
Lawmakers did have a target of 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050, but have recently warned that this will not be achieved without a significant increase in recruitment of Welsh-speaking educators.
The Welsh government has promised to take action, announcing financial incentives and substantial grants in order to help schools recruit. One school group has already received a grant to hold an online jobs fair for Welsh-speaking teachers in other parts of the UK.
Chairman of the group, Trystan Edwards, head of Ysgol Garth Olwg in Church Village in Rhondda Cynon Taf, expressed the importance of positivity and innovation in the face of the challenge. “The hope is to build on the success of the initiative by holding similar events in the future,” he said.
Teachers of a variety of subjects, who have already made the move, are confident that the plan will help to revitalize language efforts.
Targets for 2021 as part of the strategy have not been met, leaving considerable shortfalls. 391 secondary school teachers of Welsh as a subject were counted, short of the aim of 600. Additionally in 2021 there were 2,004 secondary school teachers teaching subjects in the medium of Welsh, while the target was 2,200 – with an eventual 2050 aim of 4,200.
Welsh recruitment in high school education is proving difficult across the board, according to an academic from Cardiff Metropolitan University. Of a similar opinion, Principal Trefor Jones of Ysgol Brynhyfryd in Ruthin, Denbighshire expressed that it is “increasingly difficult to recruit for Welsh-medium posts”, he added “Whether that’s down to a lack of people in the system interested in teaching or whether it’s people feeling that they’re happy in the posts that they’re currently in.”
Initiatives to boost the Welsh language skills of current members of high school staff are also being implemented.
In elementary schools, recruitment numbers seem to be steadily improving. Dr Anna Bryant, director of teacher education at the Cardiff Partnership for Initial Teacher Education, said recruitment to primary courses in Welsh and English was “positive”.
Financial incentives have also been announced in the hopes of boosting Welsh-speaking teachers in high schools. A £5,000 ($6,262) incentive for those studying to become Welsh-medium high school teachers and a £5,000 bursary to keep teachers in the workforce.
The Welsh government said a plan to increase the number of teachers “who can teach Welsh and through the medium of Welsh is vital to realizing our ambition for a million Welsh speakers by 2050”.