ARGUS COMMENT: Why politicians fail the education test every time

South Wales Argus: ARGUS COMMENT: Why politicians fail the education test every time. ARGUS COMMENT: Why politicians fail the education test every time.

THERE was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when Welsh education was ranked the worst in the UK three years ago.

Politicians, unions, teachers, governors, parents and pupils all had their say in the aftermath.

The Welsh Government put in place measures that it said would place education in Wales in the top 20 of the Pisa rankings, the influential measure of education standards in Europe, North and South America, Australasia and parts of the Middle East and Asia.

Yesterday, three years on, saw the release of the new Pisa rankings.

The UK slipped a place to 26th in the world and Welsh education remains the worst in the UK.

It is not much to show for measures the Welsh Government insists are 'the right way forward for Wales'. (Though obviously not the right way for those pupils currently being failed by the system).

Education minister Huw Lewis said yesterday that everyone involved in the sector in Wales had to take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror.

We would suggest politicians need to take the longest, hardest look.

Wales has had the same party - bar a short period of coalition government - in charge of education since devolution. Yet standards have worsened.

The UK has had successive governments that simply refuse to leave education alone, bringing in change after change. Yet standards have worsened.

Perhaps it is politics rather than education that is really failing in our country.

Comments (8)

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10:48am Wed 4 Dec 13

DavidMclean says...

Spot on! Once again Wales' politicians excel in big talk, but fail in action. We could no doubt scream up the international league tables if they added 'How to create a Committee' as a subject to the syllabus. Teachers will undoubtedly once again find the finger of blame pointing at them.
Spot on! Once again Wales' politicians excel in big talk, but fail in action. We could no doubt scream up the international league tables if they added 'How to create a Committee' as a subject to the syllabus. Teachers will undoubtedly once again find the finger of blame pointing at them. DavidMclean

11:48am Wed 4 Dec 13

county mad says...

The political interference in education has come home to roost. The ideological opposition grammar schools the GCE /CSE instead the GCSE with half the marks coming from course work (marked by thecourse teacher) and tick box exams. Dumbing down to increase the pass percentage is fundementaly wrong the left ideology of evrryone achieving equality is shortchanging the country and the children and our future!
The political interference in education has come home to roost. The ideological opposition grammar schools the GCE /CSE instead the GCSE with half the marks coming from course work (marked by thecourse teacher) and tick box exams. Dumbing down to increase the pass percentage is fundementaly wrong the left ideology of evrryone achieving equality is shortchanging the country and the children and our future! county mad

12:28pm Wed 4 Dec 13

Woodgnome says...

Not sure if the blame circus will help. It has to be a team effort by ALL participants. Govt supply the tools, parents encourage their kids and not undermine the process, teachers be good teachers with parental support and kids stop believing they are untouchable and can behave how they like.
There was a piece the other day about a nursery teaching the tots how to eat and to have manners, another piece today in the news about abusive parents on football touch lines and efforts to be made to stop the abuse. All part of the same defective culture
Not sure if the blame circus will help. It has to be a team effort by ALL participants. Govt supply the tools, parents encourage their kids and not undermine the process, teachers be good teachers with parental support and kids stop believing they are untouchable and can behave how they like. There was a piece the other day about a nursery teaching the tots how to eat and to have manners, another piece today in the news about abusive parents on football touch lines and efforts to be made to stop the abuse. All part of the same defective culture Woodgnome

1:05pm Wed 4 Dec 13

NickWebb says...

There is certainly some truth in the idea that good teachers are constrained by bad policy, but it is too sweeping to suggest that "change" is a problem. Take the role of academies across the border. Many of these schools have seen a huge upturn in results, while in some instances previously private schools have adopted academy status and in the process increased choice and opportunity for less affluent pupils who were previously priced out.

This article from the Spectator (http://blogs.specta
tor.co.uk/coffeehous
e/2012/01/academies-
work-now-let-them-ex
pand/), which also shares your view that the "system" rather than teachers is the problem also notes: "It is also a reminder that the City Academy programme, started by Tony Blair and Andrew Adonis and expanded by Michael Gove, can claim to be the most rapidly-vindicated social experiments in recent history."

The Welsh Government blocked academies on an ideological basis. They should be welcoming them with open arms.
There is certainly some truth in the idea that good teachers are constrained by bad policy, but it is too sweeping to suggest that "change" is a problem. Take the role of academies across the border. Many of these schools have seen a huge upturn in results, while in some instances previously private schools have adopted academy status and in the process increased choice and opportunity for less affluent pupils who were previously priced out. This article from the Spectator (http://blogs.specta tor.co.uk/coffeehous e/2012/01/academies- work-now-let-them-ex pand/), which also shares your view that the "system" rather than teachers is the problem also notes: "It is also a reminder that the City Academy programme, started by Tony Blair and Andrew Adonis and expanded by Michael Gove, can claim to be the most rapidly-vindicated social experiments in recent history." The Welsh Government blocked academies on an ideological basis. They should be welcoming them with open arms. NickWebb

2:30pm Wed 4 Dec 13

paddyparry says...

Did anyone else see the comment from the leader of NUT Wales:

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Mr Hathway, Wales policy officer for NUT Cymru, said: "We have to obviously look at the recommendations in detail over time, particularly what it says about numeracy skills and the application of those skills.

"I have to say I'm not overly panicked that children don't know how to sit tests. To me, that's not the be all and end all.

"If we create a generation of pupils who are fantastic at being tested it doesn't necessarily mean they are fantastic at being educated."

What we are creating in Wales are a generation of children unprepared for life after leaving school. Test aren't everything in life - but it is what you are judged on! If you don't have good numeracy and literacy you can't expect to find a well paid job.

If you don't educate children properly then you will not attract new companies, with decent, well paid jobs, to come into the country.
Did anyone else see the comment from the leader of NUT Wales: Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Mr Hathway, Wales policy officer for NUT Cymru, said: "We have to obviously look at the recommendations in detail over time, particularly what it says about numeracy skills and the application of those skills. "I have to say I'm not overly panicked that children don't know how to sit tests. To me, that's not the be all and end all. "If we create a generation of pupils who are fantastic at being tested it doesn't necessarily mean they are fantastic at being educated." What we are creating in Wales are a generation of children unprepared for life after leaving school. Test aren't everything in life - but it is what you are judged on! If you don't have good numeracy and literacy you can't expect to find a well paid job. If you don't educate children properly then you will not attract new companies, with decent, well paid jobs, to come into the country. paddyparry

5:45pm Wed 4 Dec 13

Evan Owen says...

Bring back the three Rs and discipline.

By discipline I mean the kids go to school to learn instead of prancing around like divas, the peer pressure to not be "geek" has become a bit of a cult.

As for the NUT Wales spokesperson.. well... I hope this isn't an opinion which is representative of that from the entire teaching profession, if it is they should all be sacked and more suitable candidates employed, whatever their first language may be.
Bring back the three Rs and discipline. By discipline I mean the kids go to school to learn instead of prancing around like divas, the peer pressure to not be "geek" has become a bit of a cult. As for the NUT Wales spokesperson.. well... I hope this isn't an opinion which is representative of that from the entire teaching profession, if it is they should all be sacked and more suitable candidates employed, whatever their first language may be. Evan Owen

7:23pm Wed 4 Dec 13

twp007 says...

What is so difficult about teaching and learning? Now what are we going to do in this lesson. Ha! the teacher says, we are going to learn the following...A, B, C etc and the pupils put the date at the top and the lesson begins. Now there is no mention of politicians or league tables or unions or even parents. As the lessons progresses the teacher interacts with the pupils and everything moves on nicely towards the end of the lesson. Homework or further study is arranged and the teacher says, "Has everyone understood today's lesson. It's either yes or no. Then, the pupils move on to the next lesson, pupils say, thank you Sir or Miss. Any bad behaviour is reported and sorted out. In the case of younger children in Primary School pupils show the teacher what they can do, it's marked, and appropriate action is taken. What is so difficult about teaching children. I did it once, got on with it, and had results. If you all have purpose in what one wants to achieve then you achieve it. Stop blaming bad behaviour. Set the ground rules and get on with it!
What is so difficult about teaching and learning? Now what are we going to do in this lesson. Ha! the teacher says, we are going to learn the following...A, B, C etc and the pupils put the date at the top and the lesson begins. Now there is no mention of politicians or league tables or unions or even parents. As the lessons progresses the teacher interacts with the pupils and everything moves on nicely towards the end of the lesson. Homework or further study is arranged and the teacher says, "Has everyone understood today's lesson. It's either yes or no. Then, the pupils move on to the next lesson, pupils say, thank you Sir or Miss. Any bad behaviour is reported and sorted out. In the case of younger children in Primary School pupils show the teacher what they can do, it's marked, and appropriate action is taken. What is so difficult about teaching children. I did it once, got on with it, and had results. If you all have purpose in what one wants to achieve then you achieve it. Stop blaming bad behaviour. Set the ground rules and get on with it! twp007

10:15pm Wed 4 Dec 13

Welshman76 says...

Too much swapping and changing of initiatives in schools which are never given time to work because a new minister comes in and makes changes usually back to old fashioned teaching and testing. I never sat tests in primary school and successfully come through the system with a degree. The thought of young kids being tested every year to me is unfair and just a political tool rather than of any educational value.
Too much swapping and changing of initiatives in schools which are never given time to work because a new minister comes in and makes changes usually back to old fashioned teaching and testing. I never sat tests in primary school and successfully come through the system with a degree. The thought of young kids being tested every year to me is unfair and just a political tool rather than of any educational value. Welshman76

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