Assembly cash pulls CILT Cymru back from the brink

19th March 2010 at 00:00
National centre for languages escapes closure after campaign

An educational charity has been saved from the brink of closure after an eleventh-hour intervention by the Assembly government.

Cardiff-based CILT Cymru, the national centre for languages, was facing closure at the end of the month because it had not received a promise of funding for the forthcoming financial year.

Leighton Andrews, the education minister, has put a number of funding decisions on hold until the completion of his independent review of education spending in Wales.

Without the assurance of cash, CILT Cymru's parent organisation in England could no longer guarantee its future, putting 11 of the charity's 13 members of staff at risk of redundancy.

But this week, after receiving dozens of letters from concerned teachers, unions and local authorities, the government agreed to fund CILT Cymru for the following year.

Ceri James, director of the charity, said: "It's a huge relief. Staff were thinking that they could all be out of work at the end of the month. We had no problem with being scrutinised as part of the spending review, but without a decision we were in limbo. It was extremely concerning and approaching crisis point."

However, the charity's core funding of pound;700,000 has been cut by 10 per cent for 201011, and an expected additional pound;200,000 to help introduce modern foreign languages to primary schools will not be forthcoming, TES Cymru can reveal.

Since it was formed in 2002, CILT Cymru has helped the Assembly government formulate its national languages strategy Making Languages Count.

As part of the draft strategy, launched last year, the Assembly government proposed to make funding available to CILT Cymru to establish a network of innovator primary schools with experience of providing modern foreign languages (MFL) to act as centres of excellence in each of Wales' 22 local authority areas.

Pilot schemes in 118 primaries have proved successful and Mr James said that without the promised funding to take the project forward nationally the momentum could be lost.

It is unclear whether a final strategy will be published or whether parts of it will be shelved. It has also been hit by the recently announced 30 per cent cut in the Better Schools Fund, which made cash available for the promotion of primary MFL.

Mr James is seeking a meeting with Assembly government officials to discuss the situation.

Although staff have been saved from the threat of redundancy, the charity will now have to look carefully at the services it can offer to schools and councils following the 10 per cent cut.

It currently provides free advice to local authorities on MFL provision, but Mr James said this may have to be reviewed. "We may not be able to afford to do some of the things we want to," he said.

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