Early years Welsh language scheme launches

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A new scheme to strengthen early years practitioners’ Welsh language skills has been launched by the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

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Efa Gruffudd Jones, chief executive of the National Centre for Learning Welsh, Eluned Morgan AM, minister for international relations and the Welsh language, and Dona Lewis, the centre's deputy chief executive

Nursery teachers, childminders and staff at playgroups, day nurseries and ‘cylchoedd meithrin’,  Welsh-medium early years settings, will all be offered Welsh language support.

Camau is a specific Learn Welsh scheme for Early Years Education and Childcare Workforce. Camau, which means 'steps' in Welsh, has been established to help early years practitioners respond to the Welsh Government’s proposed new curriculum in 2022 and the current Foundation Phase for three- to seven year-olds, which identifies Welsh language development as one of the seven areas of learning.

The Learn Welsh Scheme for Early Years and Childcare will also support the Welsh Government’s aim to achieve a million Welsh speakers by 2050.

The scheme will provide face-to-face Welsh language training for 350 practitioners over the next year, with a language awareness course for a further 1,000.  Funding will also be provided for employers to send staff to other Welsh language courses.

The National Centre for Learning Welsh has worked with Cwlwm, a network of membership organisations including cylchoedd meithrin, playgroups, day nurseries, childminders and pre- and after-school clubs, to develop the scheme, which includes a diagnostic tool to establish the language level of practitioners and five bespoke courses at four levels of fluency – Entry, Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced – with an additional course at Entry level for the play sector.

English is the main language spoken by 77 per cent of childcare practitioners in Wales, with 13 per cent speaking Welsh and 10 per cent using both languages, according to 2017 data from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.

The Camau Learn Welsh Scheme is supported by £250,000 of Welsh Government funding and will initially run until March 2020.

Dona Lewis, deputy chief executive at the National Centre for Learning Welsh, said, ‘The scheme will enable practitioners across the early years sector to increase their Welsh language skills which will in turn significantly benefit very young children as they start their journey to be fluent Welsh speakers.

‘We know that language acquisition occurs quickly and naturally in children up to age five. This is especially relevant in light of Welsh Government proposals to increase the hours of childcare funding for eligible working parents of three- and four-year-olds to 30 hours for up to 48 weeks of the year.’

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