Are Welsh-medium schools in south-east Wales ‘middle class’?

student in a classroom

Are pupils who attend Welsh-medium schools in south-east Wales mostly from middle-class backgrounds and does it matter?

Siôn Llewelyn Jones, from Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences, will examine these questions in a presentation at Cardiff University’s tent at the National Eisteddfod on Anglesey on Thursday 10th August at 4pm.

Mr Jones recently presented his research on how parents make their choices regarding medium of education as part of the WISERD Cardiff lunchtime seminar series and at the WISERD Annual Conference 2017.

Mr Jones said:

There is an assumption that as a result of school choice, the majority of students who go to Welsh-medium schools in south-east Wales are largely from privileged, middle-class backgrounds.

I will examine whether this assumption reflects evidence on the social composition of Welsh-medium and English-medium schools.

I will also explain how school choice contributes to the differences in the social composition of Welsh-medium and English-medium schools in south-east Wales.

Mr Jones said parents were influenced by many factors when deciding whether to choose Welsh or English-medium schools including cultural, educational and economic considerations, and how they relate to the Welsh language.

While it is a complex matter to establish whether Welsh-medium schools are “middle class”, Mr Jones said the data did enable some conclusions to be drawn.

“Welsh-medium schools in south-east Wales on average have lower proportions of students from the poorest households because they have on average lower percentages of students on free school meals compared to English-medium schools in south-east Wales,” he said.

He said Welsh Government and local authorities needed to develop policies to ensure that children from all social backgrounds were able to access Welsh-medium education.

He continued: “Examining the types of students who attend Welsh-medium schools in south-east Wales is important as Welsh-medium schools are considered to be essential in revitalising the Welsh language in this area of Wales.”

Image credit: woodleywonderworks, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)