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Election 2011, Guest Blogs, Politics

Guest blog: Leighton Andrews of Welsh Labour

We’ve been running a series of guest blogs from the four main political parties in Wales over the last few days ahead of this week’s Assembly elections. We finish with Leighton Andrews, Welsh Labour‘s education spokesperson.

By Leighton Andrews

Leighton Andrews, Welsh Labour

Welsh Labour is the only party committed to addressing the school funding gap by raising school spending by 1% above the block grant we get from the UK Government. To complement this, we will raise the amount of money delegated by local authorities to schools to 85 per cent.

We are delighted that over the period of devolution far fewer young people leave school without qualifications, and GCSE and A Leven scores have improved.

At the same time we have introduced the Foundation Phase, our ground- breaking national curriculum for all 3-7 year olds where children learn through doing is a world leader in early years education.

Through 14-19 Learning Pathways we used Welsh-made law to provide the opportunity for learners aged 14-19 to follow a course of study from a local curriculum that contains a wide range of options, both academic and vocational.

With the Welsh Baccalaureate we created a new, distinctively Welsh qualification combining skills development, Personal and Social Education and Work Related Learning.

We led the way with the Flying Start programme providing free quality part-time childcare for 2-3 year olds. In the next Assembly term, we will double the number of those gaining from Flying Start to 36,000 so that almost a quarter of all children in Wales aged 0-3 will be able to benefit.

But we need to do more. Welsh Labour wants to raise standards in our schools. We will introduce a national system for the grading of schools that will be operated by local authorities across Wales. All schools will be graded annually.

We will introduce a national reading test which will be consistent across Wales and will be designed to ensure that far fewer pupils are falling behind their designated reading age.

We support the comprehensive system. We have already legislated to ensure that there will be no more Foundation Schools in Wales. We will put ‘Welsh in Education Strategic Plans’ on a statutory basis.

We will do whatever we can to try to protect the link between teachers’ pay and conditions in Wales and those of their colleagues elsewhere in the UK.

We will reform the governance of FE in Wales, along not-for-profit or social enterprise lines, in order to give a wider range of stakeholders a say in how colleges are run.

The Welsh Conservatives would make Welsh students pay higher university fees. Welsh Labour will ensure that Welsh students don’t pay higher fees wherever they study.

We will maintain Educational Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) for learners aged 16-19 throughout the period of the next Assembly.

Wales needs a smaller number of stronger universities. We do not intend to see the closure of any of Wales HE campuses.

We will ensure that all HEIs in Wales have properly funded Student Unions able to represent their members effectively.

We have a great deal to be proud of – but we have lots to do over the next five years. To help us deliver our bold programme for education, you have to vote Welsh Labour on 5th May.


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