Cabinet Education Secretary accused of “poverty of ambition” as she again refuses to take ownership of Welsh Government’s PISA target

The Welsh Government’s Cabinet Education Secretary has once again appeared to disassociate herself from the Labour administration’s key target for the international PISA test.

This week the First Minister publicly contradicted comments made by the Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams AM in a committee last Thursday, where she told AMs that achieving 500 points in science, English and Maths at the 2021 PISA assessment was not her target.

When asked to confirm this by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies during First Minister’s Questions on Tuesday, Carwyn Jones said that the 500 target was still his Government’s priority.

Responding to a Topical Question by Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Secretary, Darren Millar AM, Ms Williams defied the First Minister further by once again refusing to acknowledge the 500 target. Instead, she told Mr Millar that she was “actively” searching for a “target scheme”.

Speaking outside the Chamber, Darren Millar AM said:

“The Cabinet Education Secretary has yet again put distance between herself and the Welsh Government’s key target on PISA, putting herself further at odds with the First Minister.

“In an ironic turn of events, Kirsty Williams now seems afflicted by the same poverty of ambition she once accused the Welsh Government of suffering from when they dropped their previous PISA target some years ago.

“It’s quite clear to me that the Cabinet Secretary has no target for PISA, and lacks a clear direction for Welsh education.

“After a decade of decline on this significant measure, Ms Williams owes it to teachers and pupils to take ownership of a target that will take Welsh education forward.”