Welsh Conservatives’ “pause and review” call on planned school reforms

The Welsh Government should “pause and review” planned reforms for its schools curriculum, say the Welsh Conservatives.

The call comes in the wake of last week’s PISA results, which showed that Wales has slid back on every measure compared to it when it first submitted to the assessment a decade ago, placing it behind all other UK nations and in the bottom half of the rankings.

In February 2015, Professor Graham Donaldson published a report commissioned by the Welsh Government which recommended a series of “progression steps” designed to overhaul the way children are taught in Welsh schools.

This new way of learning is currently in a developmental phase which will run to 2018, with select schools piloting the Donaldson-led curriculum thereafter with a view to an all-Wales implementation by 2021. It was modelled on similar curriculum reform in Scotland which was introduced six years ago.

Scotland’s schools have recorded their worst ever performance in PISA and fell down the world ranking tables in last week’s results.

In a National Assembly debate held today, Darren Millar AM – Welsh Conservative Shadow Secretary for Education – will argue that Wales should take time to reflect and take stock of the PISA results, rather than pressing full steam ahead with Scottish-style curriculum reform which has failed to stem decline in PISA rankings there.

Assembly Members will also urge the Welsh Government to develop a clear strategy with measurable targets to ensure improvement on the next PISA assessment in 2018.

Speaking ahead of today’s debate, Darren Millar AM said:

“Since the woeful PISA results were announced last week, the Welsh Labour-led Government has shown a staggering lack of leadership in navigating a way forward for our education system.

“Now is not the time to ignore the results and carry on as usual. Now is the time to reflect on what’s gone wrong and to ask honestly whether the Welsh Government’s planned reforms are the best vehicle to move Wales forward, given that the same model has so patently failed to deliver for Scotland.

“This is why I am calling on the Cabinet Secretary to push the pause button on her planned reforms and to take time to reflect and take stock.

“There is a great deal of goodwill and support for curriculum reform, but we must ensure that it is going to deliver the improvements in our education system that we need to see. The evidence from Scotland suggests that this alone is not going to be enough to do that.

“After a decade of underachievement, the Welsh Labour-led Government has a responsibility to bring forward a clear, ambitious and rational strategy that shows where we want to be and how we’re going to get there.”

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