The Welsh Government has published the Learner Travel Recommendations Report 2023, which sets out a series of recommendations 

In response Efa Gruffudd Jones, Welsh Language Commissioner, said,

"It is almost five years since the Welsh Government accepted the need to look at the Learner Travel Measure as a whole. Given the information that has been gathered during the ensuing period, and accepting that much has changed since the original Bill was introduced in 2008, it is very disappointing that this recent announcement suggests that no significant work can be done to it, and that only minor changes to guidance are being proposed.

"In terms of access to Welsh-medium education, school transport is one of the most consistent issues that parents contact us about, with constant challenges identified. If Welsh Government targets on Welsh language education are to be achieved, then ensuring convenient transport for schools plays a key part. As it stands the Measure is not fit for purpose.

"Our main concerns include,

  • The fact that transport arrangements do not always reflect the reality that there are fewer Welsh-medium schools, and therefore on average pupils tend to live further away from this provision. This means that attending Welsh-medium education remains a harder and more costly option for many families.
  • A lack of clear and firm guidance in the Measure in terms of the responsibility on local authorities to promote access to Welsh-medium education.
  • The fact that the Measure does not require local authorities to consider the language of the provision as part of the definition of 'nearest suitable school'.
  • The fact that the Measure does not require local authorities to provide transport to post-16 education in schools, which again often has a disproportionate impact on learners wishing to attend Welsh-medium education.
  • Lack of collaboration between local authorities in providing transport to Welsh-medium education.

"In 2020, along with the Children's Commissioner, we called for an expansion of the review that had been committed to – and the Government agreed to do so. While that report concluded that a wider programme of work needed to be developed during this Senedd term to consider a complete amendment of the Measure, the latest report does not deliver on that basis.

"We fully realise that it is a difficult time in terms of national and local budgets, but it is also a difficult time for families and children and young people. They will ultimately suffer due to the shortcomings of transport to Welsh language education across Wales.

"While we are disappointed by this announcement we are keen to continue to work with Welsh Government to ensure that full consideration is given to all options to improve learner transport arrangements".