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Parents, Personalities and Power

Parents, Personalities and Power: Welsh-medium Schools in South-east Wales

Huw S. Thomas
Colin H. Williams
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
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  • Book Info
    Parents, Personalities and Power
    Book Description:

    This pioneering volume is the first ever to investigate in depth the myriad interconnected influences on the phenomenal growth of Welsh-medium schools over the last half century and probe the foreseeable challenges that they will have to face.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2585-8
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword (pp. ix-xii)
    Colin Baker

    Mae addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg yn arbennigis a statement often heard in connection with our experience. Yet is Welsh-medium education so special?

    First, it cannot be claimed that Welsh-medium education is internationally special as minority language education, bilingual education, heritage language education, content and language integrated learning and immersion education are also found around the globe. Wales is not internationally different, as bilingual education has within a seventy-year period spread to most countries of the world.

    Yet Welsh-medium education is internationally famed for its quality of education, its rapid and considerable spread in the last century, benefiting from the expertise...

  4. Preface and acknowledgements (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Colin H. Williams
  5. List of Maps, Figures and Tables (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Maps showing location of Welsh-medium schools in south-east Wales (pp. xvii-xx)
  7. Notes on Contributors (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. Abbreviations (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  9. Glossary of Terms (pp. xxvii-xxxii)
  10. Chapter 1 Ysgolion Cymraeg: An Act of Faith in the Future of Welsh (pp. 1-24)
    Colin H. Williams

    Parents, Personalities and Power: Welsh-medium Schools in South-east Walesis written to encourage those engaged in the promotion of Welsh-medium activities to reflect on some of the underlying forces which animate the drive towards a more robust system of education in Wales. It is also written to inform parents and future parents who may be considering sending their children to Welsh-medium schools of the historical background and central issues which have shaped the current provision of schooling. Typically educational professionals focus on teacher-training methods, pupils’ learning strategies, the cognitive processing of information and the acquisition of skills, class-room organisation, curriculum...

  11. Chapter 2 A Dynamic Profile: Perceptions and Facts (pp. 25-63)
    Huw S. Thomas

    It is generally acknowledged that the Ysgolion Cymraeg (Welsh-medium schools) have flourished in south-east Wales both in terms of numbers and achievements (Thomas 2007: 232). Little research has been undertaken into the reasons for their success, while publications (mainly occasional articles or single chapters) referring to such schools have tended to concentrate on sociolinguistics, using Welsh-medium or bilingual education and schools to exemplify a point or to prove a thesis. This volume sets the schools at the heart of the study, and is written for a widely diversified audience: parents and politicians, practitioners and academics, as well as the general...

  12. Chapter 3 The Shifting Impact of Language and Identity (pp. 64-97)
    Huw S. Thomas

    The growth of the Ysgolion Cymraeg cannot be critiqued without due attention to three contemporary phenomena: the evolution of the Welsh language in terms of the number of speakers, the increase in a feeling of Welshness, and the incremental strengthening of powers granted to the Welsh Assembly Government. The interdependence of language, identity and education is therefore the first reason for allocating a substantial proportion of the volume to a critique of reversing language shift (RLS), with particular attention to Fishman’s Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (GIDS). Equally important is that (for the first time in any breadth and depth) the...

  13. Chapter 4 Understanding Power (pp. 98-138)
    Huw S. Thomas

    A simplistic analysis of the influences on the growth of the Ysgolion Cymraeg would suggest that power over their steady (and sometimes dramatic) growth lies in the hands of the parents. Since attendance at such schools depends on parental choice, there is no doubt that parents are basically the main driver in their growth. However, this chapter argues that the nature of power affecting their development is far more complex. I have aimed at striking a balance between an objective, academic analysis and, in the following chapter, a description of the power that has inspired the spirit and soul of...

  14. Chapter 5 The Articulation of Power (pp. 139-167)
    Huw S. Thomas

    The first part of this chapter seeks to analyse fundamental societal active processes, particularly the discretion used by individuals to realise a vision. One of the main theses of this volume is that the interdependence of language, identity and education is pivotal in reversing the language shift in Wales. According to Fishman (2006: 92):

    People cannot be tricked into supporting RLS. They must be convinced to accept a definition of their ‘best interest’ and ‘most positive future’ that depends upon and derives from RLS . . . The first ones to do so will obviously be pioneers and must be...

  15. Chapter 6 An Evolving Synergy (pp. 168-198)
    Huw S. Thomas

    This chapter draws on insights, patterns and theses that emerged from empirical research and consequent interpretations of research data, and focuses on what are considered to be some of the key aspects that should inform the future development of Welsh-language education. These aspects are arranged according to micro, meso and macro levels. The micro should be read as the actors and such matters as are of direct importance to them; the meso as the planning for normalisation of Welsh-language education; and the macro as one that encapsulates structuration and governance at global and theoretical levels. The combined effect of micro,...

  16. Chapter 7 Future Prospects for Welsh-medium Education: Reflections from a Recent Migrant (pp. 199-208)
    David Hawker

    One of the things which I found rather inexplicable when I was approached to apply for the post of director general in the Welsh Assembly Government was that the ability to speak Welsh, or a willingness to learn it, was not included in the job description. Apparently, civil service rules meant that, in order to attract a high-quality field, Welsh could be at best an optional extra – nice to have, but certainly not needed. As someone applying for the key post responsible for leading the Welsh education system, this struck me as extremely odd, as it did almost all my...

  17. Chapter 8 Parent Power (pp. 209-229)
    Michael L. N. Jones

    A consideration of the historical contribution of parents to the development of Welsh-medium education since the 1930s leads a lawyer such as the writer to place the parents into two classes derived from legal philosophy, those whose contribution was asine qua non, an underlying cause of development, an essential circumstance and those whose contribution was acausa causans,an exciting cause of development.

    Undoubtedly in quantitative terms, the first class is the more important. By 2013 these are the thousands of parents who, in local authorities throughout south-east and north-east Wales and in Powys and to a lesser extent...

  18. Chapter 9 Local Authorities and Welsh-medium Education (pp. 230-241)
    Geraint Rees

    It is now well over a century since the planning of educational provision for children and young people was put into the hands of local authorities. Consequently, it is right that local authorities are praised or criticised in turn when their provision is excellent or inadequate. Prior to the development of local authorities, it was the established church which took on much of the responsibility for education and it is during that era that it became the norm for education to be provided in English – to a nation for whom it was, in the main, a foreign language. It would...

  19. Chapter 10 School Reorganisation: A Lesson in How Not to Do It. The Case of Canton, Cardiff West (pp. 242-252)
    Rhodri Morgan

    One of the best, if not THE best day of my constituency life in twenty-three years as an elected public representative for the Cardiff West constituency, either as a member of parliament or as an assembly member, was 26 May 2010. This was the day when the Welsh Assembly Government, in the person of the first minister, Carwyn Jones, put an end to several years of speculation over the possible closure of Lansdowne Primary School. In upholding the appeal by the parents, teachers and children of Lansdowne Primary to keep their school open, in effect he announced the rejection of...

  20. Chapter 11 The School Phenomenon: Encouraging Social Language Use Patterns in Welsh-medium Education (pp. 253-266)
    Jeni Price

    Welsh-medium education doubles the percentage of fluent Welsh speakers, compared to the percentage speaking Welsh at home (Jones 2010). However, the apparent success of the Welsh-medium education system in creating more speakers has not been matched by an increase in social use of the language by young people outside the classroom (WLB 2008). To an extent this has been compounded by the increased uptake of Welsh-medium education by children from non-Welsh-speaking families. Baker (2006) recognises that one of the limitations of the immersion education system is that, for many students, the second language (Welsh in this case) can become a...

  21. Chapter 12 Transforming Strategies: Pathways to an Integral Education System (pp. 267-287)
    Colin H. Williams and Meirion Prys Jones

    In the title of his inaugural lecture to open the Bangor University Centre for Language Studies (1988), Williams posited a seminal question, ‘Bilingual Education for Wales or Education for a Bilingual Wales’? The implications of adopting either axiom as a central plank of future education planning were then spelt out. In the intervening period 1988–2012, having secured the recognition of Welsh-medium education as a legitimate choice for a substantial number of parents and their children, we are now on the verge of repositioning such choices as an integral, fully mainstreamed part of the educational provision. In the conclusion of...

  22. Bibliography (pp. 288-306)
  23. Index (pp. 307-336)