Thursday, 5 December 2013

A Slice of Welsh PISA

On Tuesday, triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) results showed Wales was at the bottom of the UK pile in key skills.
Teenagers were revealed to have scored lower in reading, maths and science than their contemporaries in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Now it may be that before we find ourselves getting into a spiral of despair  or blame game
The figures are pretty stark with the UK itself  doing poorly  Overall, the UK ranked 26th out of 65 countries. Despite spending more per head on education than most, our results are flatlining. In maths, a British 15-year-old is a full three years behind a similar teenager in Shanghai.

Wales However comes out even worse
  • Scotland scored 498 points
  • England scored 495 points
  • Northern Ireland scored 498 points
  • Wales scored 480 points
  • Scotland scored 506 points
  • England scored 500 points
  • Northern Ireland scored 498 points
  • Wales scored 480 points
  • England scored 516 points
  • Scotland scored 513 points
  • Northern Ireland scored 507 points
  • Wales scored 491points

So it appears that this is not as some would claim a failure of devolution . Because Scotland at least is doing better.

The  problem for the Labour politicians running the Welsh Government. Firstly it is they who made PISA results such an important measure of progress in education and it's they who have been in charge of education here since the Assembly began sometimes with LibDem or Plaid help but they always held the Education remit  even when it was run with them in coalition governments.

Just a few weeks ago Carwyn was trying to persuade Scottish voters that they won't see a better education system by giving an example of his own governments...

....that is grown up politics. And that is the point about the nationalist case for independence – is it grown up politics?  I’m not sure that it is.What is the case for independence – a strong economy? No, the IFS has sunk that boat. Better health or education? No, both Scotland and Wales can already develop their own policies in these areas.In Wales, we have taken best practise from Scandinavia and introduced our Foundation Phase – a ‘learn through doing’ curriculum for our 3-7 year olds; we have the Youth Guarantee, which will ensure every young person in Wales has access to a place in post-16 education and training;
Carwyn Jones was forced to acknowledged that the PISA results for Wales are 'not good enough.' Responding to criticism from opponents during First Minister's Questions, he listed reforms that the Welsh Government had introduced since the last set of PISA figures.

But he agreed the figures were 'disappointing' and accepted the need to improve but said it will 'take some time for these measures to bear fruit.'

There are arguments that PISA is flawed but  if the world looks at us they will not be impressed.
It is perhaps ironic that Labour controlled Rhondda Cynon Taf are seeking to close my local Library as well us others in our County . Just as we fall further behind in reading.
It may be that what we need is for a fresh approach to Education here but that will need a change in the ruling party and that does not seem likely.
But we will continue to fall further behind and our government will continue to be disappointed but do nothing if we ourselves  do nothing and seek change in those who have ruined the opportunity Devolution has given them.

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