Education minister calls to raise game after dire test results
10:37am Wednesday 4th December 2013 in News
THE Welsh education minister yesterday said that he and the nation’s education system should take a long hard look in the mirror after a global league table put Wales at the bottom of the British class.
But a Newport head teacher said the results of the international survey, which saw Wales’ performance slump in maths and science, should not cause us to panic.
The so-called Pisa results for 2012, published yesterday, led to heated exchanges in the Senedd on Tuesday with the first minister saying his government takes responsibility for the results.
Under the education rankings Wales remains the worst performing nation in the UK for maths, science and reading, with the whole UK ranked 26th in the world.
Education minister Huw Lewis said the results were disappointing and show Wales still has a way to go.
“Everyone needs to take a long hard long in the mirror, myself included, and accept that we have to raise our game, accept the fact there is an issue, not dodge it, and secondly really uncover what is my role in putting this right,” he told the Argus.
Mr Lewis said he was still committed to the target of getting Wales into the top 20 of Pisa, set by his predecessor Leighton Andrews, despite Simon Thomas of Plaid’s claim it wasn’t now practical.
The minister said the results weren’t surprising, with the last set of Pisa results from 2009 indicating issues to take on board.
Since 2009 the Welsh Government has introduced a number of changes, including new reading and numeracy tests and school banding.
Newport headteacher Jon Wilson said we should “be very careful with these results that we don’t panic”.
He said the last results from 2009 had indicated “what a lot of us felt, that the attention put to basic skills had not been high enough in any agenda” and said a number of measures had been put in place since.
Mr Wilson, of Duffryn High School, said: “It will take a number of years for us to see the fruits of what we are doing.”
Simon Thomas, Plaid education spokesman, said: “After 16 years of Labour in government we have a right to expect better results than this.”
Tory group leader Andrew RT Davies, speaking during First Minister’s Questions in the Senedd, asked if Mr Jones would put his own reputation on the line to see improvement at the next Pisa tests in 2015.
“If you won’t, then you really should reflect on your position,” he said.
But Mr Jones said: “We accept responsibility for these results.” We have put in place a system that will help to improve education in Wales.”
Kirsty Williams, Welsh Lib Dem leader, asked if Mr Jones was ashamed. “No,” came the reply, amid heckles.
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