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Rows – artificial and genuine

Today’s Wales on Sunday reports on a major row between the Welsh Education Minister and English Schools Minister Nick Gibb over a letter the latter wrote to teachers in a last-minute bid to persuade them not to strike over changes to pensions last Wednesday.

Leighton Andrews is of the view that the Westminster Department for Education had been discourteous in not informing Mr Andrews what it was doing. However, as pay and conditions are not devolved and the policy of the Welsh Government is to, quite rightly, not seek that power then it is difficult to see what the Welsh Education Minister’s problem is.

On the other hand, the latest twist in this sage does appear to involve a legitimate complaint on the part of the Welsh Government. They have pointed out that the letter was not bilingual and that therefore it contravenes Welsh language laws.

Frankly, the UK Department of Education response to this, that it had asked for help from the Welsh Government in translating the letter, only to be refused, is pretty feeble. After all they do not even have a Welsh Language Scheme, there are most probably as many Welsh speakers in London as in Cardiff, including a Welsh medium school and other departments manage perfectly well in getting their material translated. More to the point, why go to the Welsh Government, when the Wales Office could have sorted it out for them.

I had expected a bit more respect from the UK Education Department on this issue, after all translating a letter of this nature a week after the event hardly seems adequate. Do they really not get it or are they just trying to make an ill-judged point?

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