Welsh medium education in south east Wales, 1949-1962
: a critical analysis of development

  • Rhiannon Packer

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Concern for the maintenance of the Welsh language has increased since the middle years of the twentieth century and the demand for educational provision is a reflection of this. The use of education as a means to promote the status of a minority language in a bilingual community is a social phenomenon which is paralleled in other places and has considerable research interest.

    Minority groups often invoke the development of schools which work in the medium of their local language. Such programmes attempt to reverse language shifts which affect the status of minority groups adversely. They have a significant cultural and political dimension as the resulting schools offer a protected linguistic domain for children and young people and tend in consequence to increase the vitality of the given language.

    These matters have been widely researched in Wales and elsewhere, though few studies of the educational and social development of the bilingual child have considered the contribution of these programmes to the sociological status of the language concerned even though it is recognised that increased use of a minority language in natural daily communication is an effective empowerment of its users in the surrounding community.

    This study begins to address this omission. It examines a critical phase in the emergence of Welsh medium schools in the anglicised region of south eastern Wales between 1949 and, when the first Welsh medium schools was established in the old county of Glamorgan, and 1962, when the first secondary school was established. The establishment of the schools is discussed in relation to concurrent economic, social, and educational developments and the linguistic trends which permeated the local environment.

    The study considers the first stages of development in south eastern Wales which reflects aspects of a developing consciousness of the language issue which has become a significant feature of public debate some forty years later. It is noted that the movement began at a late stage of a complex historical process in the attempt to preserve the immediate family and cultural values and that it has since expanded to a wider section of the community. The eventual success of the Welsh medium school movement has contributed to subsequent changes in official and public attitudes to the Welsh language.

    While the political and legal changes embodied in the Welsh Language Act of 1994 lie well beyond the scope of this discussion, its argument suggests that the early phase of the schools movement embedded a factor which has contributed critically to the shaping of contemporary Welsh awareness.

    Date of AwardJan 1998
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Adamson (Supervisor)


    • Welsh medium education
    • South East Wales
    • Welsh language

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