"We can’t allow another generation to be failed"

Children and young people only get one shot at their education and it is therefore vital that we do not let them down.

I was therefore extremely concerned that the latest Estyn report, published last week, has stated that only half of secondary schools in Wales were judged as good or excellent .

The report said that in half of secondary schools there are shortcomings in teaching and assessment; leadership is inconsistent, and the majority of pupils do not achieve in line with their abilities by the time they reach the end of compulsory schooling.

This is hardly surprising given that the Welsh Government spends less per pupil per year in Wales than in England in spite of being given £1.20 to spend for every £1 spent on pupils over the border by the UK Government. 

The analysis also found pupils do not develop knowledge and skills well enough or make enough progress in about half of secondary schools.

At secondary level, 13 of the 27 schools inspected in 2017-18 needed some level of follow-up action from Estyn, including two that were placed in special measures.

The National Education Union Cymru said the teachers are facing an uphill struggle to improve education provision with “one hand tied behind their back” citing decreasing budgets, diminishing resources, and expanding resources.

Wales' Chief Inspector of Schools Meilyr Rowlands said those schools "causing concern" needed more help.

Out of the 195 secondary schools in the country, 18 are currently in special measures, while 26 are currently in need of 'significant improvement'.

These latest findings follow The National Survey for Wales (April 2017 – May 2018) which suggested that one in four parents are not satisfied with their children’s secondary school.

It found a marked decline in satisfaction with secondary schools over the last year: from 85% in 2016/17, to just 75% in 2017/18.

The worry now is that schools are being overwhelmed by constant change imposed by Welsh Government without the improvements which make that disruption worthwhile.  As we’ve seen with the supplementary in-year budget, money which could go directly to schools is going to Welsh Government’s flagship regional consortia which are charged with school improvement.  Those consortia now have to explain why there has been no such improvement despite it being the reason for their existence.

With record levels of funding and rising budgets to come, the Welsh Labour Government could have taken the opportunity to invest in the next generation and deliver a robust plan to ensure that Wales has a thriving education system which helps our children to flourish.

Good education is vital for our young people, but unfortunately for too long under Labour Welsh Government the education system in Wales has been falling behind England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We can’t allow another generation to be failed.

 We have some fantastic schools and teachers throughout North Wales and I am grateful for the hardworking staff I meet in  schools in my own constituency, but we must ensure they are provided with the support they need and the resources they to deliver the best outcomes for their pupils.