HC Deb 03 July 1978 vol 953 cc18-9
16. Mr. Geraint Howells

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many children attend bilingual schools in Wales.

Mr. Barry Jones

In January 1978, the 60 schools in Wales that are officially designated as bilingual had 15,640 pupils. These figures do not include schools in Welsh-speaking areas that are, to a greater or lesser extent, bilingual in character.

Mr. Howells

I am delighted that so many children in Wales attend bilingual schools. I am sure that the Under-Secretary of State will agree that it would be a wonderful achievement if all Welsh children were able to have bilingual education by the end of this century. What further plans has he to help local education authorities in the future?

Mr. Barry Jones

I hope that I can please the hon. Gentleman by telling him that the number of pupils attending designated bilingual schools has risen by 87 per cent. since 1970. As to the future, we have asked local education authorities for detailed information about their present policies and practices as part of the wide-ranging curriculum review. When we receive that sort of information, my right hon. and learned Friend and I will want to consider what further guidance and advice we shall give to the local education authorities.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Will the Minister remind the Welsh local education authorities of the consensus that two-stream schools have not proved as successful as schools which are one community, particularly from the standpoint of the Welsh language? Wherever the Welsh language is used as a medium, will he press those authorities to do so through Welsh medium schools?

Mr. Barry Jones

May I outline briefly but bluntly the policy as we see it? It is my right hon. and learned Friend's policy to encourage the local education authorities to make bilingual provision which is in keeping with the linguistic characteristics of their areas as well as having regard to parents' wishes. We do not bully the local education authorities. They have a fair amount of leeway to make up their own minds. However, the Department is not insensitive to the point of view which the hon. Gentleman has expressed.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Can the Minister say why only one local education authority has submitted a statement on its linguistic policy as requested by June this year?

Mr. Barry Jones

These statements will be made quite soon.

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