WELSH Labour leadership candidate Vaughan Gething has pledged to boost educational opportunity at “all ages and stages of life” if his party elects him to become First Minister.

The economy minister is competing with education minister Jeremy Miles to succeed Mark Drakeford in March.

Mr Gething wants to renew focus on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life with an expanded childcare offer.

READ MORE: Jeremy Miles 'absolutely not' looking at M4 relief road despite transport aims

He said: “We will give all children in Wales a strong start, no matter their background, while also enabling parents to work or learn as they choose.

“The cost of childcare should not be holding people back and we’re committed to expanding our offer as resources become available.”

'Closing the gap'

The Cardiff South and Penarth MS has unveiled his manifesto this morning, January 27, at Wrexham’s Coleg Cambria, covering plans for the NHS, devolution, climate, housing and transport.

“We want to see Welsh schools consistently delivering excellence in education for our children and young people,” his manifesto says.

READ MORE: Vaughan Gething on 20mph, priorities, and why no women are running for first minister

“Welsh schoolchildren are still feeling the learning and social impact of the Covid pandemic. We are committed to closing the attainment gap and addressing the rise in absenteeism and disruptive behaviour in schools by focusing on support for families.

“We would work with local authorities, schools and parents to promote access to Welsh medium education and to support children and young people with Additional Learning Needs.”

He has also pledged to “pump EU replacement funds into apprenticeships” – money the UK Labour Party has agreed to repatriate to Wales, if it forms the next UK Government, in a commitment Mr Gething takes credit for securing.

The economy minister also said he would also prioritise free and flexible learning for low-paid workers.

Gething’s five key pledges if elected as Welsh Labour leader and First Minister are:

• For a healthy nation: A Welsh NHS, safe in public hands and always the budget priority. Services focused on improving both physical and mental health and social care fit for our future.

• For green prosperity: Green job creation at the heart of protecting Wales’ future. A just transition that tackles poverty and protects our planet, with good jobs and community wealth.

• For a place called home: Accelerating social housing construction. Reliable, affordable public transport. Working in social partnership, with powers and funding devolved to local government.

• For ambitious futures: Educational opportunity at every age and stage of life. Putting the weight of the First Minister’s office behind achieving excellence in our schools and colleges, working with teachers and school support staff.

• For a stronger Wales: More powers for Wales and across Wales. An ambitious, progressive nation taking its place on the world stage with a thriving future for Cymraeg.