Applications open for Welsh-speaking teachers looking to return to Wales
The Welsh Government has today announced that it is now recruiting for its popular ‘Cynllun Pontio’– aimed at attracting Welsh-speaking teachers to secondary schools in Wales.
By being part of the programme, Welsh speakers currently teaching in schools outside Wales, primary school teachers, and teachers who have been out of the profession for five years or more can receive support to become secondary school teachers.
The Cynllun Pontio, which has been running since 2020, has previously seen Welsh speaking teachers, largely from England, supported to return to Wales to teach – with benefits both to the individuals and the wider sector.
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said: "Increasing the number of teachers who can teach through the medium of Welsh is key to reaching our goal of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
"The Cynllun Pontio is a fantastic opportunity for teachers to be supported to teach through the medium of Welsh in secondary schools. It’s heartening to hear of the success stories to date and I would encourage any teacher considering moving back to Wales, transferring into the secondary sector, or returning to the profession, to apply."
Two of the teachers who took this opportunity to return to Wales last year are Siân Bradley, Head of Biology at Ysgol Glantaf, and Richard Battrick, Art and Technology teacher at Ysgol Llangynwyd.
Siân Bradley, who moved back to Wales from London through the Cynllun Pontio said: "I have gained so much from the opportunity and it has given me the confidence to use a language that I hadn't spoken for a long time. I enjoy the challenge, and everyone has been so supportive and welcoming. Teaching the new Curriculum for Wales is also an exciting opportunity, as it gives teachers much more freedom to choose what to teach and to make the link between the subject and the local community. It's a very unique and exciting thing."
Richard Battrick, who returned to the community he had grown up in said: “It’s great to be back in a community that I know and to give back to the community that gave me my education. After living and working in England for a long time, I was a little apprehensive about the standard of my Welsh, but that was quickly dispelled in the interview. The advice I would give to anyone thinking about applying to the Cynllun Pontio, or even applying to work back in Wales, is there's a lot less to worry about than you think, and you might know more than you realised. The support from the Cynllun Pontio, fellow teachers, and the whole school really are invaluable.”
Anyone interested to learning more about the Cynllun Pontio or in applying can do so here Conversion Programme | Educators wales
Notes to editors
Siân Bradley, Head of Biology at Ysgol Glantaf
“I studied Biology in university and really enjoyed the hands-on work. I remember having a long conversation with my mum and she said that with my performing background, it might be a good thing to think about teaching. I did the PGCE course at Cambridge University and then I moved to London to teach.
“During the pandemic, I was living and teaching in London, and I found it really difficult to be away from my family. I think I'd also got to the point where that I didn't find the job as challenging as I had. So I was looking for something new. And at that point I started to look into moving back to Wales.
“I emailed my old Biology teacher and he told me about the Cynllun Pontio and that it would give me the time that I needed to focus on my language skills, improve them ready for me to be able to step up and teach through the medium of Welsh.
"I have gained so much from the programme and it has given me the confidence to use a language that I hadn't spoken for a long time. I enjoy the challenge, and everyone has been so supportive and welcoming, and they've really helped me improve my confidence. I love the challenge it gives me, and I love the fact that I can describe myself as bilingual.
“I take so much comfort in the fact that I'm speaking a language that a lot of my family at one point or another through history spoke, and that I really feel that I am truly connected and belong to the community.
“My advice would be just go for it. Do some research, try and talk to people and find out what schools might be the best fit for you as a teacher. It was a big challenge to make that move, but I don't regret it.
“I've definitely got a much better a richer life from being closer to family and making new friends. It feels like I have I've had two lives: one in London and one back in Wales. And there's something about it where I feel much more connected to the community, and I feel that I belong here.
“Teaching the new Curriculum for Wales is also an exciting opportunity, as it gives teachers much more freedom to choose what to teach and to make the link between the subject and the local community. It's a very unique and exciting thing."
Richard Battrick, Art and Technoloygy teacher at Ysgol Llangynwyd
“Initially when I moved to England, I went there with the thought of being there for one or two years, and that obviously then developed into a longer period of time. So I've wanted to come back for quite some time.
“The opportunity to work in another type of educational establishment - a Welsh-medium school - was a big attraction and a challenge for me as a teacher. It was also an opportunity to be near family and friends, and to back in a community that I know, and maybe giving back to a community that gave me my education in the first place.
“I've now been here for a full term and I found it extremely rewarding. I was a little apprehensive about the standard of my Welsh, but that was soon dispelled during the interview. It was great to go to an interview where at the end of it, people were saying, ‘your Welsh is fine, don't worry’. I think I'll probably always be a learner of some kind - I think many of us are, there's always room to improve and develop that sort of internal dictionary of words that you have.
“The advice I would give to anyone thinking about applying to the Cynllun Pontio or even applying to work back in Wales is don't overly worry about the standard of your Welsh, the support from the teachers, the school, and also the programme has been really invaluable. There's a lot less to worry about than you think. And you might know more than you realised too."
Amanda Williams, Head of Music at Glantaf:
“I went to University in England when I was 18, and I didn't move back to Wales until I was in my 30s, so my entire career has been through the medium of English. I moved to Wales for personal reasons, as I had a baby and wanted to move closer to family and friends, and wanted my daughter to grow up speaking Welsh and having a Welsh language education.
“Although I was unsure at the beginning, speaking and working in Welsh has just come back to me quite naturally. All the teachers have been really helpful, so it's been a much easier transition than I thought it would be. “It feels great to be back in Wales and teaching through the medium of Welsh. Now is a great time to move to Wales to teach because we've got the new Curriculum. We're all working it out together. We've got lots of opportunities to be creative and collaborative. So now's the time.”
Andrew Evans: Physics Teacher at Llangynwyd:
“I always wanted to teach in Wales but spent my career working in England and Dubai. I've always been quite a fairly confident Welsh speaker but hadn't considered teaching through the medium of Welsh. It was something that made me quite nervous, but when I came back to work in Wales, I found my Welsh improved really really quickly. It's remarkable how quickly you can pick things if you're using it every day.
“I think it's really important that children realise that you can study science through any language and Welsh, just like any other language, gives you that opening to study the subject and that by speaking Welsh, you are still able to access and take part in a subject just like any other students around the world.”