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'Environmentally-friendly' school for Llanelli

A new, environmentally-friendly school, will be officially opened today in Llanelli.

Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes has been funded jointly by the Welsh Government and Carmarthenshire County Council.

It has been rated BREEAM “Outstanding” because of its environmentally-friendly features, including rainwater harvesting, external planting areas, solar panels and renewable energy sources.

When we invest in major capital projects like Ysgol Ffwrnes we are not only investing in the school and the futures of young people but also local communities.

This construction has provided training and employment opportunities which have benefited the local economy. I’m sure that pupils and teachers of Ysgol Ffwrnes will enjoy their new school for many years to come.

– Huw Lewis AM, Education Minister


Public meeting to fight closure of St Davids sixth form

Parents and pupils in St Davids are due to hold a public meeting tonight, to fight plans to close the sixth form at Ysgol Dewi Sant.

It is the only secondary school in the city - and was under threat of being closed altogether - before Pembrokeshire County Council last week changed those hugely controversial plans.

Hundreds of people protested outside an extraordinary council meeting last week.

The sixth form only is now due to be closed, due to a forecasted fall in student numbers.

Post-16 provision would be provided at a new integrated sixth form centre, as part of a formal collaboration between the council and Pembrokeshire College.

Other proposals include the closure of Sir Thomas Picton School and Tasker Milward VC School in Haverfordwest, with a new Welsh medium secondary school to be established.

Pembrokeshire County Council is aiming to improve school standards, and invest in poor school buildings. Its plans are now due to go to official public consultation before final approval can be given.

Crabb's claims are "smears of smiling assassin" say Labour

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith has dismissed as "ignorance" and "smears" today's speech by Secretary of State Stephen Crabb on standards in Welsh education. Mr Crabb has accused Labour of trying to prevent debate after the Welsh Government's furious reaction to his comment in a newspaper that schools in Wales are "a bigger scandal than the NHS".

Stephen Crabb is becoming a disingenuous, smiling assassin of the reputation of our Welsh schools and hospitals. Only a few weeks ago he called on his Cabinet colleagues to mind their language about Wales, lest they create a false and damaging impression of our country with their politically motivated attacks on the Welsh NHS. Yet today he himself declared Welsh schools as ‘worse than Eastern Europe’, in ignorance of the facts and in a naked attempt to score political points ahead of the election – no matter the damage done to Wales’ reputation abroad, nor the morale of our pupils and teachers at home.

In his speech, Mr Crabb recalls his own education – like mine and the First Minister’s - in a Welsh Comprehensive, but the prescription he hints at - for the failings he falsely describes - is for Wales to go down the route of scrapping comprehensive education and creating instead autonomous academies, as in England. He fails to point out, of course, that a higher proportion of these academies are failing than of their local authority run equivalents, but that will surprise no one here in Wales: we are used to Tory Ministers smiling sweetly as they smear.

– Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith MP

Crabb hits back at claims of 'gutter politics"

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb is expected to renew his criticism of school standards in Wales when he makes a speech later. His claim that Welsh education "is a bigger scandal than the NHS" led to Education Minister Huw Lewis to accuse the Secretary of State of indulging in "gutter politics". Mr Crabb is due to respond by saying that Wales needs more "heated debate" about the issue.

In England, there has been 20 years of heated debate about how to deliver the best education. In Wales, we haven’t even had that discussion. When Welsh Labour Ministers try to shut down the debate it’s the pupils, parents and teachers who lose out.

It is not just the best performing students that are missing out, the most disadvantaged children in Wales are less likely to get good GCSEs than similar pupils in England. That is just not good enough.

We need an honesty check here in Wales and start facing the facts. The inconvenient truth is that at the moment our education standards our not where they should be if we are to have any hope of getting off the bottom of the league table.,

If we are going to be ambitious for the Welsh economy we need to be far more ambitions for Welsh education.

Simply saying, 'we took our eye off the ball' doesn’t come close to the level of responsibility Welsh Labour Ministers should be accepting.

– Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb MP
  1. Nick Powell

Lib Dems claim Tory threat to education budget

After Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb attacked Labour over standards in Welsh schools, the Conservatives are being accused by the Liberal Democrats of threatening education in Wales. Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott, who has stepped down as a Lib Dem minister in the Westminster coalition, claims that the Tories are planning to "slash education spending in England", which would lead to an equivalent cut in the Welsh Government's funding.

The Tories' plans to slash funding for schools, nurseries and colleges in England in the next parliament would have dire consequences for Wales. The Tories want to run schools for profit and bring back grammar schools: that is their priority. It’s all very well David Cameron talking a good game on education, but we all know that without the Liberal Democrats holding him back in coalition, he would have cut school spending.

– Jenny Willott MP

The Westminster Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, has said that she is "absolutely fighting" for the schools budget in England to be protected if the Conservatives form the next government. First Minister Carwyn Jones has committed Labour to increasing Welsh school budgets by an extra 1% every year until the funding gap with schools in England is closed.

The Lib Dems are arguing for the education budget in both countries to be protected "from cradle to college". The Welsh Secretary's claim that Labour's record on education in Wales is "a much bigger scandal" than its running of the NHS was dismissed by a spokesman for Education Minister Huw Lewis as "the latest salvo in the war on Wales .... putting Welsh teachers and pupils in the firing line".


Welsh Secretary: Education record 'much bigger scandal' than health service

The Welsh Secretary has launched an attack on Labour's education record in Wales saying it's a 'much bigger scandal' than its handling of the health service.

Conservative MP Stephen Crabb made the comments in an interview with The Sunday Times.

He added that parents in England have 'good reason to feel very concerned' if the Labour party come into power in Westminster after the general election.

A spokesman for the Education Minister in Wales, Huw Lewis said standards are on the up and criticised the Tory party for putting Welsh teachers and pupils 'in the firing line'.

"This is simply the latest salvo in the war on Wales. Not content with denigrating our NHS, now the Tories are putting Welsh teachers and pupils in the firing line.

"All the latest evidence says that education reforms in England are stalling, whilst standards in Wales are improving."

– Spokesman for the Education Minister

In October, the Welsh Government dropped its target to be in the top 20 places of international education league tables by next year.

Read more: Colour-coded ratings: Where do your schools rank?

Valleys college in 'special measures' for poor performance

Tonypandy Community College has been placed in 'special measures' by education inspectors for its poor performance. In a report published on Friday by Estyn - which inspects quality and standards in education in Wales -

In a report published on Friday by Estyn- which inspects quality and standards in education in Wales - said current performance is judged to be unsatisfactory because:

  • Performance in indicators that include English and mathematics are weak, well below expectations and significantly below that of similar schools
  • Performance in the majority of non-core GCSE subjects is weak
  • A number of groups of pupils significantly underperform, such as boys in English,boys and girls in mathematics, and more able pupils across many GCSEsubjects
  • The low level disruption caused by a few pupils disrupts the progress of other pupils in a minority of lessons
  • Over half of pupils do not make sufficient progress in lessons
  • Too many pupils’ literacy skills are weak and their numeracy skills are very weak
  • The quality of teaching varies too much.

The school has been told to draw up an action plan which shows how it is going to address the issues. Estyn will monitor the school’s progress on a termly basis.

A spokesperson for Tonypandy Community College said the results of the Estyn report highlights many of the positive elements of our College, particularly in student care and attendance.

However, we disagree with a number of judgements made by the Estyn inspectors during their few days at our College and will be pursuing those directly with them. Their report tell us nothing new and the issues they have raised are already being improved upon. Sadly, due consideration has not been given to significant improvements at Key Stage Three, attainment at 5A*-G, 5A*-C and Post 16, with many measures above Local Authority and Welsh averages. In fact this is in contrast to the progress made by the College, which has been acknowledged by the Welsh Standard Unit which places our school in the top 3 groups across Wales. This is higher than many schools across Rhondda Cynon Taf and Wales as a whole and reflects the progress that the College is making to improve standards.

– Tonypandy Community College

“Sadly, due consideration has not been given to significant improvements at Key Stage Three,

attainment at 5A*-G, 5A*-C and Post 16, with many measures above Local Authority and

Welsh averages. In fact this is in contrast to the progress made by the College, which has been

acknowledged by the Welsh Standard Unit which places our school in the top 3 groups across Wales.

This is higher than many schools across Rhondda Cynon Taf and Wales as a whole and reflects the

progress that the College is making to improve standards.

“We will continue to improve at all levels across the College and look forward to ESTYN’s visit in the

summer term when they will measure progress against those recommendations made.”

  1. Tom Sheldrick

Parents and pupils celebrate St Davids school reprieve

Hundreds of parents and pupils turned out this morning to protest against controversial plans to close the only secondary school in the city of St Davids.

Ysgol Dewi Sant was under threat, as part of plans to reorganise education and improve performance in Pembrokeshire.

But, the council then offered the school a reprieve - in an unusually quick victory for people power.

Tom Sheldrick reports:

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