TWO Welsh Government ministers both made references to the UK Government's education secretary Michael Gove at a conference yesterday morning, as they set out their "vision for the future" of Welsh education.
Speaking at the National Education Conference in Cardiff, both the First Minister Carwyn Jones and education minister Huw Lewis addressed Wales' poor rankings in the 2012 international Pisa league table.
Their speeches followed an announcement in the Senedd on Tuesday that Welsh teaching staff would be urged to carry out more professional development throughout their careers, and spread best practice across the country.
The First Minister said he was "frustrated" about what he described as negative coverage of Wales' schools and insisted the nation's education system was "not fragmented" where "a tornado runs through it and we see what lands". "The stark progress we need to demonstrate has yet to be achieved," he said, describing choosing which books go on school bookshelves as "micro management gone mad".
Mr Jones said the poor 2012 Pisa results, which showed Wales lagging behind Scotland, Northern Ireland and England in some areas, "stung our pride, made us re-evaluate what we were doing as policy makers and I hope it has made us thirst for excellence".
Speaking afterwards, Mr Lewis described the Welsh education system as "fair, and on a journey towards being good".
Reports published over the past year, including a recent critique from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), have been "difficult reading" but "invaluable" in shaping the reform process, he said.
"In contrast with education ministers in other parts of the UK I see myself as involved in a partnership, not a prize fight," said Mr Lewis.
"Some education ministers might wag their finger at you and demand compliance with this agenda. That to my mind would be the height of folly and not and never has been the way we do things in Wales.
"I don't want professionals to comply, I want you to choose, freely and sincerely. That's the only path towards permanent change for the better."
Mr Lewis said he thought Mr Gove was "kidding people on" and that "the headline is more important than the reality in England".
He claimed he would not "kid [teachers] on" by expecting them to be able to suddenly teach a "huge swathe" of changes to the curriculum overnight.
Changes to Wales' GCSEs are due to come into force for pupils starting Year 10 next September.