Welsh or English

  • You have the right to an education which encourages you to respect your culture – and the culture of others. You also have the right to learn and use the language of your family
  • The Local Authority where you live has to make sure that the schools and education in your area have to take account of how parents want their children to be educated
  • Depending on where in Wales you live, you may have the choice whether to learn in Welsh, in English or bilingually

Welsh is an official language in Wales, alongside English. The Local Authorities in Wales, which are responsible for most of the schools in Wales, have to have a ‘Welsh in Education’ plan to make sure children and young people in Wales can learn through Welsh, and to make sure Welsh is taught to a high standard.

Can I choose whether I go to a Welsh-medium or English medium school?

There are different types of school in Wales depending on how much of the teaching is done in Welsh. They include ‘Welsh Medium’ where Welsh is the ‘day to day language of the school, and most of the teaching is in Welsh, to ‘English Medium’ where everything is taught in English with Welsh being taught as a second language. Your choice of school will depend on what is available in your area.

Do I have to learn Welsh?

All children in Wales have to learn Welsh up until they are 16. This means that you will have to do Welsh at GCSE, either as a first language or as a second language. You will also be taught English and will have to do English GCSE. Even if you are in an English-medium school, you will still learn Welsh.

Could my school switch from English-medium or bilingual to Welsh-medium?

If more than half the children and young people in your area are taught in English, your Local Authority has ask people in that area if they would like their children to be taught in Welsh. Depending on the replies it gets, the Local Authority must do things to make Welsh-medium education more available. This could include changing your school to Welsh medium.

If I go to a ‘Welsh-Medium’ school will I get into trouble for speaking English – or another language?

Every school is responsible for setting out what will happen if a pupil doesn’t behave in a way that is expected. If you go to a Welsh medium school, you may be encouraged – or expected to speak Welsh all the time you are in school, not just in lessons. This might be difficult if you have only just started learning Welsh, or if you are struggling to learn Welsh, so you should be helped and supported to learn Welsh so you can participate in school life. If you choose to ignore school standards or rules that expect you to speak Welsh all the time, your school might take some action to encourage you to speak Welsh. This may be as simple as reminding you that the school is ‘Welsh medium’ which means the day to day language, inside and outside the classroom, is Welsh.

Any action your school did take would have to be reasonable, respect your rights and your dignity and take account of your situation. This should include how long you have been learning Welsh and anything that might make it difficult for you to speak Welsh. Your school also needs to remember that you have the right to use the language of your family.

What if I don’t want to speak Welsh at school?

Your education should encourage you to respect your own culture and other cultures. Welsh is one of the official languages of Wales and learning and speaking Welsh at school is a great opportunity to find out more about Welsh culture. Your school may have an expectation that you will speak Welsh at all times in school, apart from when you are learning English, so if you don’t want to speak Welsh at school, you may need to talk to your parents about whether this is the right school for you.

Remember that you will have to learn Welsh at every ‘state’ school in Wales, whether you do so as a ‘first’ language or a ‘second’ language.

What if I don’t speak Welsh?
If you don’t speak Welsh, you will get extra support from the school and from the Local Authority to help you learn. Each Local Authority will have different options in place to help you learn Welsh.