Eluned Morgan says she is delighted attitudes towards the language have changed in the last few decades.
“I was one of a handful of children from my estate in Cardiff who had my education through the medium of Welsh and distinctly remember having stones thrown at our bus full of primary school children as they objected to having a Welsh language school in their neighbourhood,” Ms Morgan said.
“I am delighted that the attitude towards the language has changed fundamentally from when I was a child.”
Her multi-million pound plan outlines how Welsh-medium and Welsh language education will develop over the next four years to 2021.
It says it aims to ensure all young people, from all backgrounds, leave school “ready and proud to use the language in all contexts”.
A new Welsh language curriculum and better training for teachers are among a raft of measures – many of which have already been published – drawn together in the document, Welsh in Education Action Plan 2017-2021.
The 45-page plan follows the first Welsh-medium Education Strategy for people of all ages in 2010.
Today’s paper focuses solely on compulsory education stages.
The report admits that Welsh in English-medium schools is inconsistent and too often leads to low attainment.
It also says there are too few teachers able to teach through the medium of Welsh and better provision for students with additional learning needs is needed.
The plan says that by 2021, the Welsh Government aims to:
- Develop a new Welsh language curriculum to inspire learners to learn and use the Welsh language;
- Increase opportunities for children and young people to use Welsh in various contexts and embed use of Welsh from an early age;
- Support teachers to develop Welsh language skills so they have the knowledge and expertise to deliver the new curriculum through the medium of Welsh and teach Welsh as a subject;
- Increase numbers of pupils in Welsh-medium schools and;
- Ensure all children have equal access to Welsh-medium education.
Writing in the report, Ms Morgan and Education Secretary Kirsty Williams say: “We know that the development of Welsh-medium education over the last half a century has been extraordinary, particularly in attracting parents/carers and learners from both Welsh-speaking and non-Welsh-speaking backgrounds.
“However, we also know that the teaching and learning of Welsh in English-medium settings is inconsistent and too often leads to low attainment.”
Research will be commissioned early next year to investigate children and young people’s attitudes towards the Welsh language.
Over the next four years increasing value will also be put on Welsh as a subject in schools and as a medium for teaching and learning.
Future curriculum planning and teaching methods will be more informed by research and evidence about effective language teaching and learning, including language immersion, and how bilingualism can boost learning.
But the report warns “the supply of teachers for the Welsh-medium sector continues to be a cause for concern”.
A range of measures have already been taken to try to address this shortfall including a £5,000 cash incentive to undertake training as a Welsh medium secondary teacher.