LLEUCU EDWARDS has gone to great lengths to ensure that her learning journey has been through the medium of Welsh, her first language.

Lleucu, 28, lives in Carmarthen where she leads Cylch Meithrin Eco Tywi, a pre-school nursery for children aged between two and four years.

Not only was her school education through the medium of Welsh, but she did extra research to find Welsh language text books and translated others from English to achieve a BA Degree in Early Years Education at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen.

Lleucu went on to further expand her knowledge and practical skills by achieving an Apprenticeship in Childcare Development. She then completed a Higher Apprenticeship in Leadership for Children’s Care, Learning and Development in six months supported by work-based learning provider ACT.

Her passion for promoting Welsh medium and bilingual apprenticeships has led to Lleucu being appointed an Apprenticeship Ambassador by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (CCC) and the National Training Federation of Wales (NTfW).

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol leads the development of Welsh medium and bilingual education and training in the post-compulsory sector in Wales and the NTfW represents work-based learning providers across Wales. 

Lleucu has the distinction of leading the first nursery in Mudiad Meithrin (Nursery Movement) to be eco and plastic free, as all the learning resources are made of wood, metal, bamboo or stone.

“I knew from an early age that I wanted to work with children,” she said. “I really like being in their company and seeing how they develop and progress both within our care and when they leave us.”

Following her degree, Lleucu gained experience working in a creche and as a primary school teaching assistant before securing her current post at a new nursery in November 2019.

Whilst the nursery was closed for five months during the first Covid-19 lockdown, Lleucu focused on her Higher Apprenticeship. The nursery has now reopened and Lleucu is keen to increase the number of children attending.

She is also committed to continuing her own professional development, saying there is always something new to learn to benefit herself and the nursery children.

Passionate about learning through the medium of Welsh, Lleucu did a media interview during the recent Apprenticeship Week and is proud to be an Apprenticeship Ambassador.

Apprenticeship Ambassador Lleucu Edwards

“I don’t think I would have been successful had I not been able to do my education and apprenticeships through the medium of Welsh,” she said. “It’s very important to let other people know about these opportunities.

It’s my first language and I do everything at work in Welsh. My Higher Apprenticeship has helped me to focus on leadership roles, policies and different elements that help me in my work.

“I think apprenticeships are important. With a degree, you learn the background and theory whereas an apprenticeship gives you the practical skills and knowledge in a work setting.”

Nia Gealy, childcare and playwork assessor for ACT, said: “Lleucu is really committed and focused on what she wants to do and is passionate about working with children. She chose a good time to do the Higher Apprenticeship as it linked in well with the opening of the nursery.

“I think some people underestimate the importance of being able to do an apprenticeship through the medium of Welsh if it’s the apprentice’s first language. It’s only right that these bilingual opportunities exist.”

Welsh Language Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is fantastic that apprentices are being given the opportunity to complete their training programme through the medium of Welsh.

“It is important services like these are provided bilingually, as it strengthens the use of the language in day to day life and ensures speaking Welsh remains a valuable skill for employment.

“We have provided funding to support Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol’s Ambassador Scheme and it’s great to see people benefitting from this. I wish the best of luck to apprentices completing their training programmes and hope they enjoy long and successful careers.”

Ryan Evans’ role as the NTfW’s bilingual champion is to support training providers across Wales to increase their ability to deliver more apprenticeships bilingually or through the medium of Welsh.

“Many workplaces are becoming more bilingual, so completing an apprenticeship bilingually or in Welsh can increase an individual’s confidence to work in both languages and their employability,” he said.

“Our Apprenticeship Ambassadors are excellent role models for apprenticeships, highlighting the benefits of learning and working bilingually in the workplace.”

Elin Williams, from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, said: “This is the second year running that we have appointed ambassadors for the apprenticeship sector, and we think this is a vital tool in showing people that it is possible to continue with your bilingual learning through the apprenticeship route.

“With the Welsh Governments target to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050, it has never been more important to develop your bilingual skills and increase your employability prospects.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.