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What can EPs do to support Welsh-Medium children and young people with additional learning needs.

Wales is a bilingual country with two official languages, Welsh and English (National Assembly for Wales, 2011) and there are estimated to be 538,300 Welsh speakers aged three and above in Wales (Welsh Government, 2022).

With the Welsh Government’s aim to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050 through introducing Cymraeg 2050 (Welsh Government, 2017) the Welsh language is a topic of importance within Wales. 

Of the 69,100 children and young people in Wales, 22.7% are educated through the medium of Welsh (StatsWales, 2023). The new Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Code in Wales outlines the need of a ‘bilingual system’ where Welsh-medium (WM) provision must be provided for learners who require it. Despite this, there has been limited research into how the needs of Welsh-Medium children and young people with additional learning needs are met in Wales and so there is little information on how and if the bilingual system exists in Wales. 

My thesis research aimed to explore the current Welsh-Medium additional learning provision (ALP) available in Wales, the benefits, challenges, barriers to and facilitators for Welsh-medium additional learning provision.

The findings of this research presented the first insight, to my knowledge, of the current WM ALP within and across Wales. 

Belonging to Wales or having your needs met – views from EPs and TEPs

Firstly, the findings from the research suggests that Wales currently has an inequitable system where, depending on your location in Wales, your needs might be met differently. For example, in South Wales CYP might not have access to as many WM EPs and specialist provision compared to CYP in North Wales. 

Secondly, there are a lack of Welsh-medium assessments, resources and interventions to support CYP with additional learning needs. This means that often children might be assessed through the medium of English and their responses may be misinterpreted due to a lack of knowledge of the Welsh language.

The lack of resources and interventions mean that schools must either create their own resources, spend time translating English resources, or deliver interventions and use resources in English. Alongside this, there are also a lack of Welsh speaking EPs to support Welsh-medium schools, children and their families. Participants shared how this could lead difficulties in creating shared understanding and meaning due to families and schools having to translate their views into English. Translation is not word for word and on occasion nuance might be missed. This suggests that in some areas in Wales, Welish-Medium children with additional learning needs, and their families, do not have access the same level of support as their English-speaking peers. 

Participants expressed that the reason for this lack in provision might be because of a perceived lack in demand for it from CYP, parents and schools. Whilst there is no research into the demand for Welsh-medium additional learning provision, people may believe that there is limited demand for it. Due to this limited demand, there is in turn a limited supply. As some local authorities (LAs) continue to believe that there is a lack of demand in their area they decide not to invest in it and provide a supply. As a result, there are fewer people who can access Welsh-Medium opportunities, in turn creating fewer Welsh speakers in the area. Ultimately this then creates reduced demand for Welsh-medium provision. This research hopes to be a point of punctuation in the cyclical pattern of demand and supply. 

Children, young people and their families must choose between being Cymreig (belonging to Wales) or having needs met. Participants shared that the Welsh language is often at people’s core as it can foster their sense of belonging and identity. If CYP are not able to access Welsh due to a lack of provision, then this may impact their belonginess to being Welsh. 

The Welsh Government and Welsh speaking professionals were recognised as facilitators by participants. The creativity of schools to find ways to meet needs and the Welsh language being a right has supported opportunities for CYP to access the Welsh language. Alongside this, participants shared that in LAs with a higher number of Welsh speaking professionals there were greater Welsh language opportunities for CYP. 

What can EPs do to better support WM CYP with ALN?

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) state that practitioners psychologists, including EPs, should “be aware of the impact of culture, equality and diversity on practice” (Health and Care Professions Council, 2022, p. 4). One participant shared that if an EP worked within a LA with greater numbers of Welsh speakers, then perhaps they “would be able to pick up on exclusionary practices that were coming through in English etc, and challenge those to a greater extent.” (Osian-EP). Through raising awareness of the inequity faced by some, alongside the benefits of accessing Welsh-medium alternative learning provision, it is hoped that both Welsh-speaking and non-Welsh speaking EPs are able to challenge exclusionary practices that they may encounter in their work with WM schools, settings and also within LAs.

Alongside this, I created a reflection document based on the the findings of this research to be used as an aid memoir by EPs when working with WM CYP who speak minority languages, including the Welsh language. This reflection document is based on the Constructionist Model of Informed and Reasoned Action (COMOIRA) (Gameson & Rhydderch, 2008, 2017; Rhydderch & Gameson, 2010). Questions are presented in the core and at each decision point for EPs and TEPs to consider in their practice. I created this resource as best practice guidance could not be created due to the variety in Welsh speakers and available provision between LAs. 

More research is needed into this topic that consider the views of CYP, their families and school staff on the current Welsh-medium alternative learning provision in Wales. Through this it is hoped that greater awareness is drawn to the current picture in Wales and steps can be taken to ensure equitable support and provision for all WM CYP with ALN in Wales. 

Should you wish to offer any feedback on the guidance document attached to this blog then please contact me.

View Molly’s reflective resource for working with Welsh-medium settings


Gameson, J., & Rhydderch, G. (2008). The constructionist model of informed and reasoned action (COMOIRA). Frameworks for practice in educational psychology: A textbook for trainees and practitioners, 94-120. 

Gameson, J., & Rhydderch, G. (2017). The Constructionist Model of Informed and Reasoned Action (COMOIRA). In B. Kelly, L. M. Woolfson, & J. Boyle (Eds.), Frameworks for Practice in Educational Psychology (2 ed., pp. 123- 150). Jessica Kingsley. 

Health and Care Professions Council. (2022). The standards of proficiency for practitioner psychologists

National Assembly for Wales. (2011). Welsh Language (Wales) Measures 2011

Rhydderch, G., & Gameson, J. (2010). Constructing a flexible model of integrated professional practice: Part 3–the model in practice. Educational Psychology in Practice, 26(2), 123-149. 

StatsWales. (2023). Pupils with additional learning or special educational needs in primary, middle and secondary schools by year, Welsh/English Medium and type of provisionh

Welsh Government. (2017). Cymraeg 2050: A million Welsh speakers

Welsh Government. (2021). The Additional Learning Needs Code for Wales 2021

Welsh Government. (2022). Welsh language in Wales (Census 2021).

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