Early years’ provision for young children in Wales: history, challenges, and the Welsh language

  • Siân Wyn Siencyn University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Keywords: Early Childhood, Bilingualism, Welsh Government Policies


The development of Welsh medium early years’ education has been a story of singular success over the last century. With the establishment of the National Assembly in 2000, Wales further forged its own vision for its young children. One of its first priorities, for example, was the Foundation Phase with its radical approach. This paper offers an overview of the historic development of nursery education in Wales, before and post devolution. Welsh language and Wales policies are set in the context of wider influences. Focus will be on Welsh language provision, highlighting the role of Mudiad Meithrin in the language revitalisation process. This paper will consider issues, research and theory relating to early bilingualism and will review approaches to immersion methodology.  Thereafter, the challenges of implementing immersion will be explored and set in the landscape of tensions facing the field of early childhood services in Welsh, and in light of current political and policy developments.