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  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?

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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:

Credit: tonypandycollege.co.uk
  • 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:

Colour-coded school ratings published

Rankings for Wales' primary and secondary schools have been published under a new colour-coded 'categorisation' system.

According to their performance, schools are categorised as green, yellow, amber or red.

It replaces the controversial 'banding' method for ranking secondary schools.

Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

Out of 1,332 primary schools assessed, 206 have been put in the green support category and 58 have been put in the red support category.

Out of 211 secondary schools, 30 have been put in the green support category and 23 are in the red support category.

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New motion would see Ysgol Dewi Sant saved

The proposals were passed by Pembrokeshire Council and will now go to consultation.

  1. Tom Sheldrick

Hundreds protest over planned school closures

Credit: ITV News

Hundreds of people have turned up outside Pembrokeshire Council offices in Haverfordwest this morning, protesting against planned school closures - particularly Ysgol Dewi Sant in St Davids.

Past, current and potential future pupils, as well as parents, chanted "save our school" as councillors entered to start the extraordinary council meeting.

New primary and secondary school rankings due

Rankings for Wales' primary and secondary schools will be published later today, under a new colour-coded 'categorisation' system.

It replaces the controversial 'banding' method for ranking secondary schools, which was criticised for being crude and overly volatile.

The new model will include primary schools too, rating them according to performance data like attendance and exam results, but also taking into account schools' self-evaluation on their prospects for improvement.

Primaries schools are included in the new system, alongside secondaries. Credit: PA

Schools will be ranked from green at the top, to yellow, amber and then red for those at the bottom - which "will receive immediate, intensive support", and closely monitored.

Read More: Colour-coded schools: how will it work?

Teaching unions here have criticised the new system though.

ASCL Cymru Secretary Robin Hughes said: "It is a concern that the calculations may actually make it harder for the schools with the greatest number of disadvantaged pupils to show the progress they are making."

Education Minister Huw Lewis has responded: "Outcomes for our free school meal students are simply not good enough. Under the new system you don’t get to call yourself a top performing school, unless the results of your poorest pupils reach a certain basic standard. If there are those who seriously want to argue with the basic fairness of that, then good luck to them.”

  1. Tom Sheldrick

Welsh Govt vows to act on 'failing' pupil referral units

Wales' education watchdog has warned that some of our most vulnerable pupils are being let down due to huge inconsistencies in provision outside of mainstream schools.

In its annual report, Estyn said that, while special schools are very successful, too many pupil referral units are 'failing' the children who attend them.

The Education Minister Huw Lewis today pledged to act urgently to address the problems.

Tom Sheldrick reports:

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