Improving Educational Attainment

2. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Education – in the Senedd at on 12 June 2024.

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Photo of Joyce Watson Joyce Watson Labour


5. What is the Welsh Government doing to improve educational attainment? OQ61237

Photo of Lynne Neagle Lynne Neagle Labour 3:04, 12 June 2024

We are focused on delivering sustained improvement in educational attainment so that every learner can fulfil their potential. We will deliver this through reform and improvement aimed at creating a whole system that works for all learners, and closing the attainment gap faced by our most disadvantaged learners.

Photo of Joyce Watson Joyce Watson Labour

Diolch, Cabinet Secretary. I was really pleased to hear that the attainment champion pilot is to be extended into a second phase this September, and the pilot, which was designed to help tackle the impact of poverty on pupils' educational attainment and to boost standards in schools, has shown some positive results. So, I'm delighted to see that it is to continue. Cabinet Secretary, do you agree that projects like that, that help—? Sorry, I'll start again. Do you agree that projects like the attainment champions pilot, which is hard to say, clearly demonstrate the Welsh Government's commitment to improving the educational experience for disadvantaged children?

Photo of Lynne Neagle Lynne Neagle Labour 3:05, 12 June 2024

Thank you very much, Joyce, and thank you for highlighting the attainment champions pilot. I was lucky a few weeks ago to be able to meet some of the school leaders involved in that pilot, and it has been really successful. I'm pleased to say that we have announced the second phase of the scheme now, so there'll be more schools that will be able to benefit from that. And you are absolutely right to highlight the vital nature of closing the attainment gap for our most disadvantaged children, and the attainment champions is just one aspect of the work that we're doing in this space.

We've also developed a partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation, which is providing all schools with bilingual materials, so that they can access the best international evidence on the most effective teaching and learning strategies. We're also looking at incentivising teachers to work in the most challenging schools, and you'll be well aware of our long-standing track record with the pupil development grant, which we've issued new guidance on, and which we are continuing to invest in.

Photo of Samuel Kurtz Samuel Kurtz Conservative 3:06, 12 June 2024

Educational attainment is of the utmost importance and, Cabinet Secretary, I'm sure you'll join me in paying tribute to Manorbier Church in Wales VC School who, following a fire in October 2022, had to decant to Jameston Community Hall, and under the fantastic leadership of headteacher Sharon Davies delivered a fantastic Estyn report that said: 

'The school's highly committed staff work tirelessly to ensure that pupils' lives and learning continue without disruption or distress.'

An absolutely fantastic testament to the hard work and dedication of Sharon and her team, and the wider school community of Manorbier. But ensuring that we have good-quality staff across the board in Wales to deliver on that attainment is really important, so how are we delivering the very best skilled teachers in the workforce here in Wales?

Photo of Lynne Neagle Lynne Neagle Labour 3:07, 12 June 2024

Can I take this opportunity to thank you for raising that and to recognise what sounds like a fantastic achievement by Manorbier school, and to thank Sharon Davies? It's a huge achievement to do that when you're dealing with the aftermath of a fire, and I'd be really grateful if you would pass on my thanks to the school.

We've got some brilliant school leaders in Wales, and one of the things that we're looking at with our school improvement partnership programme is that we've had a really clear message from school leaders that they see school-to-school working as being absolutely key to getting the improvements that we want to see in Wales. We've now gone into the second phase of our school improvement partnership. We're expecting all local authorities to be partners in that as well, but there'll also be a strong focus on national leadership, and I'll be providing a further update to the Senedd on this in due course.