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Confusion reigns over education in Wales – opinion piece

January 31, 2014 12:14 PM

Just what is the matter with Welsh Labour Education Ministers? We have had a whole string of them seemingly determined to do nothing more than tinker around the edges, move the goalposts around every few months and try to make a name for themselves. All that whilst making sure they take none of the blame for the mess they are creating - and education in Wales is in a mess.

The annual report from ESTYN published a few days ago makes for frightening reading for anyone in the least bit concerned about our children's future.

"The 2012 PISA results demonstrate that standards in literacy and numeracy are still not good enough across Wales."

"In the 2012 PISA survey … in all subjects, scores for Wales were significantly below those of other UK countries and the OECD average."

"Around 43% of primary schools need a follow-up visit, either from the local authority or by Estyn. The proportion of schools being monitored by Estyn has increased gradually since 2010."

"This year, the number of secondary schools in need of significant improvement increased from five to six. There was a significant rise from one to six in the number of schools placed in special measures. These schools have a weak performance when compared with that of similar schools and show little improvement over time."

"Seven of the eight local authorities we inspected require follow-up. In these authorities, arrangements for supporting and challenging schools are not robust enough and they have not had enough impact on improving outcomes." One of these was RCT

Standards on average across Wales are lower than in other UK countries and indeed most European countries. RCT come near the bottom of the table within Wales. It cannot be because our children are born less able. Somewhere the system is failing them.

Still we should not despair - there are solutions on the horizon. Wales Online today reports that the banding system is to be changed. Yes that artificial system of ranking schools condemned by just about everyone is to change says the press. Instead there will be a new colour coded system of - well banding really.

The Education Minister has stepped in quickly to reassure people - via Twitter. "Just to clarify following this morning's Western Mail's front page, Banding is here to stay" was the message. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

There is much talk in the Estyn report of quality of leadership being to blame - well it's about time that some informed leadership came from the top.

Karen Roberts

Campaign Manager RCT Welsh Liberal Democrats