Lack of male study in Welsh language A level could be ‘detrimental’ and have ‘worrying’ impact on social mobility

A failure to motivate male pupils to study Welsh language as a subject at A level could be “detrimental” for the future of the language, according to Shadow Welsh language Secretary Suzy Davies AM.

Ms Davies believes opportunities for young men within the Welsh economy, as well as their prospects for social mobility, could also be compromised by the lack of Welsh language A level study.

Speaking during the Eisteddfod in Monmouthshire, she said the Welsh Government needs to urgently address gender balance in the uptake of Welsh language A level study.

In 2015, only 18.8% percent of A level papers in the Welsh language subject sat in Wales were undertaken by male pupils. Furthermore, only 125 male pupils sat the exam in 2015 - a fall of 36% on 2011 figures; whilst overall entries have also shown a year-on-year decline.

Participatory figures have remained relatively static, over a five-year period at 18.2% (2014 and 2013), 18.9% (2012) and 21.4% (2011) – suggesting a failure to ensure male pupils understand the benefits of Welsh language study, and threatening its balanced, longer-term and everyday use across Wales’ communities.

Supplementary data also suggests that for 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15 combined, four out of five 17-year-old pupils taking A-level Welsh first language were girls.

Shadow Welsh language Secretary Suzy Davies AM said:

“These statistics show there is a monumental gender divide in the study of the Welsh language as an A level subject, and – more widely – a dip in the study of the subject altogether.

“For the language to flourish, participation across society is vital. These statistics pose a monumental challenge for the language’s long-term future; as ensuring its balanced, everyday use in communities across the country is vital.

“Welsh language skills can also be hugely beneficial to supporting social mobility, and an individual’s economic prospects. These worrying statistics suggest opportunities for young males across Wales could be restricted.

“On the week the Welsh Government announced a target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050, it is clear Welsh Ministers need to front up and explore why Welsh language A level study appears so unpopular amongst male pupils, as a failure to act could be detrimental for the long-term future of Welsh.”