Crying out for speakers of Welsh

The sheer stress of running a poorly staffed subject area is putting off many potential applicants for senior roles

Alison Brown, head of Argoed comprehensive, in Flintshire, works hard to foster a sense of Welsh identity among her pupils.

But her efforts, she says, are cotinually frustrated by a lack of Welsh teachers.

"Our school is very pro-Welsh," she said. "But we need two full-time Welsh teachers, and in the borders, there just aren't enough. When one of our teachers left in July, we advertised three times, and contacted colleges and supply agencies, but we had only one applicant, who later withdrew."

Since devolution in 1999, it has been compulsory for Welsh pupils to study Welsh up to GCSE. But, says Mrs Brown, this legislation has not been backed up by funds to attract and train teachers. She had to persuade a teacher to come out of retirement for a term.

Argoed will now readvertise the post and Mrs Brown also intends to take on graduate trainee teachers, in any subject, who are native Welsh speakers. But ultimately, she says, responsibility for dealing with the shortage lies with the Welsh Assembly: "I don't think that the Assembly has really woken up to the shortage. They're doing a lot to promote the language and the culture, but they're not giving us the necessary resources.

"Perhaps we need to go back to making Welsh optional at GCSE. The Assembly has either to look at the curriculum again, or to put some funding into it for more Welsh teachers."

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