Are Welsh-medium schools key to creating one million Welsh language speakers by 2050?

ITV News Correspondent Hannah Thomas went to Merthyr Tydfil's first Welsh-medium primary school to see how they are creating more Welsh speakers

Earlier this year, the Welsh Government announced plans to invest in teaching the Welsh language within educational settings and increase Welsh-medium school capacity.

Now, nearly four million pounds has been set aside to help childcare settings improve their Welsh language services.

The £3.8 million of funding will go towards things like increasing the number of Welsh-medium after school clubs and supporting school staff to improve their Welsh.

All teachers, headteachers and teaching assistants - as well as young people aged between 18-25 - are also being offered free Welsh lessons.

It is all part of the Welsh Government's Co-operation Agreement with Plaid Cymru and government attempts to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050.

But is it enough to reach the target and produce more adults who use the language regularly?

Welsh is a compulsory part of the curriculum for all schools in Wales but at Welsh-medium schools, it is the main language used to teach.

Gerwyn Jenkins is a teaching assistant at Ysgol Santes Tudful, the first Welsh-medium primary school in Merthyr Tydfil.

While he believes embedding the Welsh language within education is beneficial, he also thinks there is an issue around how likely children are to use the language outside of school.

"The educational side, I believe, is doing the maximum it can for the language. And it certainly is a growing thing," Mr Jenkins said.

"The problem we have is, once you finish school, not knowing who actually speaks Welsh within the community.

"It's having places to go, perhaps, and people feeling confident in using the language to be quite frank with you."

He also wants to see the first Welsh-medium secondary school created in the county borough, to develop the language further.

Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire do not have any secondary schools with dedicated Welsh language provision. Powys has no only Welsh-medium secondary, though there are bilingual schools in the area.

Ysgol Santes Tudful is Methyr Tydfil's first Welsh-medium primary school and recently marked its 50th birthday.

Nursery group Mudiad Meithrin think one way in which children can be supported to continue using Welsh outside of school is if their parents learn the language too.

Louise Stevens, director of the group, said: "People say it's harder to learn when you're an adult but I think, if you aim it as a parent on learning Welsh to use with your children, you're going to support yourself but you're going to support your children through the system too."

While the Welsh Government is aiming to increase capacity in Welsh-medium schools and support early immersion in the language, it also said the number of adults speaking Welsh is already rising too.

Education Minister Jeremy Miles MS said: "The numbers of adults learning Welsh through online courses has gone through the roof actually. It's at the highest ever level."

Figures for 2021 show nearly a third of people (29.5%) aged three or older in Wales were able to speak Welsh. That is around 892,200 people, an increase of 0.4% on the previous year.

Nearly half of those Welsh speakers said they used the language every day while around 56,500 reported that they never spoke Welsh.