The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed more ambitious targets for closing the attainment gap between richer and poorer pupils, after previous targets were met three years early after a key Welsh Lib Dem policy was implemented.
The Education Minister has announced more ambitious targets for closing the attainment gap by the end of Foundation Phase, aiming for 80% of learners aged 7 who are eligible for free school meals achieving the expected level by 2017.
Aled Roberts claimed the news as a vindication of his party’s decision to prioritise the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) in budget negotiations with the Welsh Government, a policy that targets resources at pupils from deprived backgrounds to improve their attainment.
In place since 2012, the PDG will be worth £1,150 per pupil eligible for free school meals in 2016/17. Over £282m will have been invested in Wales’ schools over the lifetime of the Grant.
Aled Roberts AM, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Minister, said:
“We constantly see headlines of Labour Ministers missing their own targets – on health, on education, on greenhouse gas emissions. It seems that Labour can only actually meet their targets with help from Welsh Liberal Democrat policies.
“The evidence is stacking up: the impact of our Pupil Deprivation Grant has been transformational on the attainment and life chances of Wales’ poorest children. This is vital support that simply wouldn’t exist without Welsh Lib Dem influence.
“Maybe if Labour Ministers adopted more of our fresh ideas, Welsh public services would be in a better state and they might be able to meet more of their targets.”