An awareness campaign ... but don't tell anyone

Thanks to Golwg 360, I found out about the launch of a new campaign to make parents aware of the benefits of Welsh-medium education for their children. It was also featured on Newyddion 9 last night:


Since then, I've searched through the rest of the media to see if this new campaign had been reported anywhere in English. So far as I can see, it hasn't been reported on the BBC, ITV, the Western Mail or the Daily Post. The only mention of the campaign in English is on the Welsh Government's website.

How on earth can we take a so-called awareness campaign seriously if no attempt is made to have it reported in the English language media. After all, the target audience of the campaign is specifically parents who do not speak Welsh, not those who already can.

In part, this is the fault of the Welsh Government for not taking enough trouble to have the campaign publicized in the English language media. But it is also the fault of the media organizations for not bothering to do it ... especially the BBC, since they have must have taken a conscious editorial decision to report the story in Welsh, but not bother to report it to the very people the campaign is meant to be aimed at.


So, in an attempt to spread the message to those who only speak English, let me reproduce what it says on the WG website:

First Minister launches Welsh-medium education campaign

First Minister, Carwyn Jones, has today launched an information campaign to raise awareness of Welsh-medium and bilingual education, Live in Wales: Learn in Welsh?


The First Minister launched the campaign at Ysgol Gymraeg Trelyn, Blackwood, where he met with parents and read a Welsh language story to children in the reception class.

The three year campaign will target expectant parents and parents with children aged 0-3, offering them information and advice so that they are fully informed when making a decision on whether to send their child to a Welsh-medium or bilingual school or not. The campaign aims to dispel some of the myths around Welsh-medium education.

The First Minister spoke to parents who do not speak Welsh about their experience of sending their child to a Welsh-medium school. The First Minister said:

"Parents are not always aware, or do not have easy access to information about Welsh-medium schools. This three year campaign will raise awareness of Welsh-medium and bilingual education so that parents can make an informed choice.

"I understand the concerns some parents may have about sending their children to Welsh-medium and bilingual schools, especially if they don’t speak Welsh themselves. This campaign is designed to ensure parents have all the information they need to be confident that whatever choice they make is the right one for them and their child."

Education Minister, Huw Lewis said:

"Our Live in Wales: Learn in Welsh? campaign aims to dispel some of the myths around Welsh medium education, such as that non-Welsh speaking parents are unable to help their children with homework and their development.

"Welsh-medium education can offer children new skills and can be a very enriching experience. We know that some parents are put-off because of a lack of understanding of the support available for those who are non-Welsh speaking. Our campaign aims to inform and reassure parents when making the important decision about their child’s education."

The growth in Welsh-medium education has been very successful, especially in the Caerphilly area which has seen the largest growth across Wales in Welsh-medium education during the last ten years. As people said in Y Gynhadledd Fawr, building on this success is key to ensuring the language continues to thrive.

For further information about the campaign, parents can visit the Welsh Government website and the Choice-Dewis facebook page.

Welsh Government, 18 November 2013

I've tried to find a copy of the booklet featured in the video and on the facebook page, but can't find it. So to me, it looks like a very half-hearted start all round. It matches the tone of what Carwyn Jones said in the Newyddion 9 interview. Instead of emphasizing the benefits, his message was, "Well, it's up to parents. There's nothing stopping them."

Let's hope it gets better.

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Welsh not British said...

It is a shame the rest of the media hasn't covered this but if they are to target the parents and prospective parents then the best way to target these will be via their health visitors, midwives, local surgeries and of course maternity wards. To an extent this has been the case for a number of years so let's just hope this new campaign will ramp that up.

Incidentally, the Cymdeithas clock is down to 22 days until they unleash whatever it is they have planned.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I think you miss the point here. There is absolutely no desire from our politicians or our media to force upon the non-Welsh speaking members of society an ad campaign extolling the virtues of WM education. What would be the point? On the other hand, there is every desire to engage with the Welsh speaking members of society by promoting the benefits of the language, albeit such benefits are already acknowledged by existing Welsh speakers.

You see, it's just another attempt to keep everyone happy. And, in truth we should all be grateful.

Anonymous said...

"I've searched through the rest of the media to see if this new campaign had been reported anywhere in the English language media." Did you check the South Wales Argus?

MH said...

I take the point about specific targeting, Stu. So let's see what happens over the three years.


I'm not sure whether you are trying to be ironic, 12:27. According to what both Carwyn Jones and Huw Lewis said, there is not only the desire, but the money to fund a three year campaign. Perhaps you are confusing your desires with those of others.


Thanks for the tip off, 12:36. The Argus story is here.

It touches on the campaign, but the thrust of the story is about providing more Welsh medium places, which is somewhat different, though obviously important.

Anonymous said...

It's a sop for Carwyn to show he's 'done something' before the Cynhadledd Fawr ... which is itself another sop of course.

Labour have not idea, vision nor will. Another wasted 5 years for the language.

I wish it was otherwise. When it comes to the language I'm totally non-partizan and will support any politician, party or group who does something for it.

This 'campaign' has Thatcherism written all over it. Using the language of 'choice'. But there is not choice of Welsh medium education for everyone because (as in the case of Grangetown) Labour refuses to open new WM schools.

Funny how Labour come over all Thatcherite and free market when it come to the Welsh language.


Welsh not British said...

"Leighton Andrews ‏@LeightonAndrews

Disappointingly low level of coverage of this in English language Welsh media"

Perhaps Leighton might want to look into why the so called Welsh media are so quick to jump on a negative story but completely ignore a positive one?

Anonymous said...

Hmm, it's ok but that's it. The real campaign that is needed is to get more Welsh medium provision to meet existing demand.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to the time when ALL primary/junior schools in Wales are Welsh medium. Then we can work on the higher education establishments.

MH said...

Nice to see Leighton's tweet, Stu. There's still no national coverage, but the Caerffili Observer has picked up on it ... which is perhaps not a surprise as the event was in their area.

Leighton's a strange bird. I think his heart is definitely in the right place with regard to Welsh, but I'm not so sure about the policies ... or, more exactly, whether there was ever a real commitment to deliver on the policies. The Welsh-medium Education Strategy has good targets, but in practice those targets are not being reached because insufficient thought was put into how to achieve them, see here. I didn't comment on the third report, but it's available here and shows minimal (or no) progress.

The outcome targets are clearly not going to be met. But is anyone in the Welsh Government doing anything about it? No. They're just carrying on regardless as if the outcome didn't matter. In regard to that, 11:58 is exactly right. We have to kick up a fuss in order to get the WG to deliver on their commitments. Sadly, the reaction from Plaid Cymru has been quite pathetic. It is the job of our AMs to hold Welsh ministers to account, and we should have used the publication of the WMES annual progress reports to kick up a fuss, but we didn't.

Anonymous said...

On a related matter, there is a rumour going round Torfaen that the council is about to backtrack on the plan to give the new build primary on Parc Panteg to Ysgol Panteg and assign it to the English medium sector instead - possibly to Griffithstown primary plus the overflow from the closed Kemys Fawr. Anyone heard similar?

MH said...

I haven't heard that rumour, 21:24, and it does run counter to everything I've heard before. In this report on 26 September this year, Brian Mawby, the Torfaen cabinet member for education, said:

"We already have a major project under way in terms of Welsh medium and I’m not sure you’re going to get another new school prior to Ysgol Panteg opening, we hope in 2015."

That "major project" is the proposed new school on the Avesta steelworks site, and I'd be astounded if it wasn't WM. I haven't heard the name "Parc Panteg", although it would obviously have to be called something. I assume this is what you mean.

As the story says, there is a crisis in WM numbers in Cwmbran, which will require an urgent solution before next September. But if anything there needs to be yet another WM in addition to the new steelworks school.

I've asked a few questions, and hopefully will be able to say something later.

MH said...

I think I've made some sense of what might be happening and what the rumours could be about, 21:14.

Kemys Fawr Infants is definitely going to close in August next year, with pupils moving to Griffithstown Primary. There isn't any overflow, because there are sufficient surplus places at Griffithstown Primary to take the children from Kemys Fawr, as can be seen in the Statement of Information on the page I've linked to.

The present Ysgol Panteg is already full, even though it only opened in 2010. It has had to take in roughly twice as many pupils as it could sustainably accommodate in the long term because of the high demand for WM. Next year, there will not be enough space at Panteg, so I think the idea being floated is for the Kemys Fawr building to be used as a temporary overflow for Panteg from September 2014. If all goes according to plan Panteg (in the current building and the overflow) will still move to the new building in Parc Panteg (steelworks), hopefully in September 2015.

I must stress that this isn't definitive, it just seems to me to be the best explanation for the rumour. There might well be other people who have other ideas.

Welsh not British said...

Four days after writing this "Perhaps Leighton might want to look into why the so called Welsh media are so quick to jump on a negative story but completely ignore a positive one?"

FailsOnline do this.

Using autistic children as weapons against Cymraeg rather than reporting on an isolated failure at one school in one county.

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