Children in some primary schools in Wales are being punished for speaking in English and even told they cannot go to the toilet unless they ask in Welsh, according to concerned parents. One mother was told not to read English books to her child at bedtime while another pupil, aged six, was too frightened to speak the language at home in case he got into trouble, it is claimed. This is from the Telegraph…
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, said he would look into the claims after he was contacted by a group of concerned parents in an email outlining the incidents at schools in Ceredigion – a bastion of Welsh language.
However, Ceredigion council insisted the claims were “difficult to believe” and insisted that the county’s schools were “friendly, inclusive and welcoming”.
The email said that in one school a pupil was told to “move to England” if she wanted to speak English in the playground while a parent at another school was told “to stop reading to her child in English at bedtime as it was hampering the child’s learning in Welsh”.
Another pupil was said to have been told: “Children like you are making the Welsh language die out.”
The email added: “A six-year-old child refused to speak English with his family at home for fear of getting into trouble.
“There are reports that children in some schools, even in reception classes, are not being allowed to go to the toilet unless they ask in Welsh.”
In the email, the parents said they supported “the idea of a vibrant bilingual system” but were worried about how education policy was being implemented.
They said they were “deeply concerned by the attitude of many of the schools, staff and officials in Ceredigion, who are using the language strategy as an excuse to force a single language on our young children.”
Some schools are said to be using “traffic light” systems to enforce the policy, where children are given a red warning if they are caught speaking English once, an amber a second time, and green for a third – meaning they are sent to the head.
The parents, who wish to remain anonymous, have drawn comparisons with the “Welsh not” in the nineteenth century, an infamous method used to discourage the native language at a time when its use was frowned upon.
Pupils caught speaking Welsh were given a stick or plaque to be handed on to whoever next spoke the language and at the end of lessons the child left with the Welsh Not was punished.
Today in Ceredigion, a large proportion of schools in the county are Welsh language schools.
Responding to the latest concerns, Mr Towler said: “I can confirm that I have been made aware of this issue and that I will be responding to those concerned in due course.”