Believing in teachers, benchmarking against the best

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg

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By Kirsty Williams AM, Cabinet Secretary for Education,

Michael Gove, a name I am sure you are familiar with, once famously questioned the merit in following the evidence and listening to “experts”. That is not a view I share. I believe all decisions made by governments must be based on sound evidence.

For well over a decade, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) has been at the forefront of providing the very best international evidence available. That’s why I recently took the opportunity to visit their headquarters in June.

A series of meetings, with Andreas Schleicher, Director of the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills and others, reinforced why we absolutely must focus on giving our youngsters meaningful skills for life, including digital of course.

As Andreas says: ‘In the past, education was about teaching people something. Now, it’s about helping students develop a reliable compass and the navigation skills to find their own way through an increasingly uncertain, volatile and ambiguous world.’

I’m keen for our current approach in Wales to align with OECD thinking. My predecessors invited them to benchmark what we do in Wales in 2014 so that we could compare ourselves with international best practice. It is not good enough to limit our ambitions to simply looking across the border, we must strive to be up there with the best in the world. So when I met the OECD, I asked that they advise me on whether we now have the right strategies in response to their 2014 Review.

They will see our reforms at first hand when they visit next month, including the development of the new curriculum, as led by our teachers. And for me that last point is crucial; those closest to the task of giving our children the skills they need are leading the development work.

I put my faith in teachers. I value their skills and it is my mission to celebrate their professionalism and keep them first and foremost in developments.

The new curriculum is due to be made available in 2018 for full implementation by 2021, and I am convinced that it will win the confidence of parents, pupils and the OECD alike. The first element, the Digital Competence Framework, was made available in September. In the videos below I endorse its importance; better still you can hear first hand from Lauren and Amelia at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern about the benefits just this new element will bring.

5 thoughts on “Believing in teachers, benchmarking against the best

  1. “I believe all decisions made by governments must be based on sound evidence.”

    Why then is the accumulated evidence that Welsh-medium schools under-perform English-medium schools when compared on a like-for-like basis using EFSMs not being factored into WG policy? What do you propose to do about it?

    Why then is the accumulated evidence that L1 English pupils under-perform in the core subjects in Welsh-medium schools when compared on a like-for-like basis using EFSMs not being factored into WG policy? What do you propose to do about it and specifically when will the WG make it unlawful for LEAs such as Gwynedd to deny L1 English children an English-medium primary education since all the available evidence suggests that most children learn best through their first language?

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  2. John Walker is asking good questions, especially when parents don’t have a choice and never had a vote. This poor education system we have is what puts off inward investment in Gwynedd, no one is thinking about real jobs which is why so many of our well educated children have to move to England to find a future and why we can’t recruite highly qualified health workers, who wants to bring their young children here when they have got to learn Welsh, like it or not.

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  3. It’s wonderful to see Welsh education moving forward in this way, taking its place in the 21st century. I did enjoy watching and listening to two bright young pupils enthusing over their new tablets but the Minister must realise the cost of supplying such hardware to schools.
    Just one small point; Ysgol Gyfun Cymraeg Bro Edern is the newest secondary school in Cardiff and, as the name suggests is a Welsh medium school. There are 19 secondary schools in Cardiff and three of them are Welsh medium schools. The free school meals entitlement percentage for these schools is 12.4%, 8.9% and 5.9% as against an average free school meals entitlement for all Cardiff schools of 20.5%.
    In other words, when Ms Williams “randomly” chooses to display the enviable conduct of one of Cardiff’s 19 secondaries and picks a Welsh medium school she is putting the city’s middle class elite on display.
    So how is it that Bro Edern, with just 260 pupils on roll (with £8783 per year per pupil at their disposal) has the funding to pay for high tech supplies?
    It’s a little known fact that Cardiff, even in these times of budget cuts and austerity measures, still awards a sizeable “Welsh medium supplement” for no other reason than to boost the life chances of pupils in its elite WM schools. In the 2015-16 settlement Each WM secondary received a Welsh medium supplement of £43,333.
    But that’s not the end of it. Each WM school then received a Welsh medium “weighting” for each pupil. Put simply this puts an added value on teaching pupils in Welsh although there is no added cost. In this way Ysgol Glantaf received another £60,931. Ysgol Plasmawr got £52,919 and Bro Edern’s 260 pupils benefited from another £16,149 to go with their £43,333 “bonus”.

    Perhaps “Liberal Democrat” Welsh Education minister Kirsty Williams can tell me why these girls in her puff piece are worth more to Wales than my own daughter in her English medium school?

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  4. Dear Glasnost and others, thank you for your comments.

    Professor Donaldson’s ‘Successful Futures’ report took full consideration of language issues. The decision to introduce a new curriculum for Wales, along the lines of the recommendations in Professor Donaldson’s report, received cross party support.

    I hope you will agree that your views and those of your colleagues who hold similar opinions have been aired very fully on this blog. However for the sake of moving forward in a positive vein, we will not be publishing further contributions of a similar nature.

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