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Kirsty Williams: It’s time to get serious about improving school performance

June 28, 2011 1:14 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are using their opposition time in the National Assembly to call for a comprehensive approach to improving school performance in Wales.

Two reports by Estyn and PISA have been highly critical of educational standards in Wales, whilst the most recent GCSE and A level results show Wales slipping behind England for the first time.

On Wednesday, the Education Minister will make a speech on his proposals outside of the Senedd. It is only the Welsh Liberal Democrats' use of opposition time that will ensure that school reform is debated in the National Assembly.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have tabled a motion for debate tomorrow which seeks cross party support for measures to improve the performance of Wales schools by:

Attacking the spending gap, providing more money for schools by targeting additional money at pupils who need it the most so that schools can afford to invest in the things that really matter, such as smaller class sizes or one-on-one teaching.

Investing in new training and development opportunities to teachers, driving up standards and demanding the best of our teachers so we deliver for our children.Updating the national curriculum so that it focuses on key skills.Ordering a full, independent review of the governance of schools, particularly examining issues of local accountability, the appropriate leadership for governing bodies and whether single governing bodies would be appropriate for catchment areas.Improving transition between pupils from primary and secondary schools by formalising partnership between these schools, hiring more transition teachers and ensuring the early years of secondary schools offer a better balance of pastoral and academic teaching.

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

"We need to be honest with ourselves and accept the evidence that school performance in Wales is not what is should be. Without determination to tackle the causes of our underperformance - both in terms of funding and our approach, there is a danger that Wales will slip further behind England, Scotland, Northern Ireland as well as our international competitors.

"The underfunding of schools over the last decade under the stewardship of both Labour and Plaid Cymru will take time to address but the Welsh Liberal Democrats are determined to help build a political consensus in favour of doing so.

"But it is not just about money. We now need to look to radically improve the training and development opportunities for our teachers, re-focus the curriculum on core skills, review our governance arrangements and improve the difficult transition between primary and secondary school."

Notes to editors:

Agenda

(10) v2, Plenary
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 13:30

Item 7 Welsh Liberal Democrats Debate

To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:

1. Calls on the Welsh Government to implement a school standards improvement programme by:

a) Introducing a pupil premium to target money at pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, helping to close the funding gap with England;

b) Developing a comprehensive continuing professional development programme, funded by scrapping the General Teaching Council for Wales and improving workforce planning;

c) Updating the national curriculum so that it focuses on key skills;

d) Ordering a full, independent review of the governance of schools, particularly examining issues of local accountability, the appropriate leadership for governing bodies and whether single governing bodies would be appropriate for catchment areas; and

e) Improving transition between pupils from primary and secondary schools by formalising partnership between these schools, hiring more transition teachers and ensuring the early years of secondary schools offer a better balance of pastoral and academic teaching.