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Meeting to be held over proposed closures of eleven Rhondda Cynon Taf schools

Parents have taken to social media to express their anger over plans for Rhondda Cynon Taf council to close 11 of its schools.

Under the new plans, children from ages 3 to 16 will be taught at the same school. Credit: ITV Wales News

The proposals are to be discussed at a council cabinet meeting later today.

Councillors are expected to discuss the possibility of replacing the closed schools with 'middle schools' which will teach children from ages 3 to 16.

The local authority says the plans will aim to raise standards and offer pupils 21st century school facilities.

But some parents are concerned about having children of different ages taught at the same school.

The plans come after the local authority announced it's to make a third round of cuts to its services.

Nursery education, street cleaning and town events could all face being axed as the councils looks to make up a £30 million funding gap.

Read More: Rhondda Cynon Taf Council announces plans for schools shake up

Welsh Government expected to downgrade Pisa target

The Welsh Government is today expected to downgrade its target for Wales to be in the top 20 of international education league tables by next year.

The so-called Pisa tests compare the performance of 15-year-old pupils around the world in key subjects.

When they were last taken in December 2012, Wales ranked 43rd out of 68 countries for maths, 41st for reading and 36th for science.

The Pisa tests compare the performance of 15-year-olds around the world in key subjects. Credit: PA

Those rankings are all lower than the previous occasion in 2009, and behind both the rest of the UK and the Pisa average.

Former Education Minister Leighton Andrews pledged to reach the top 20 positions when the tests are next taken in December 2015.

His successor Huw Lewis has also stuck by the target, despite slips in performance.

Mr Lewis is today due to set out the Welsh Government's plan to improve the education system over the next five years.

The 'Qualified for Life' plan will focus on building a strong workforce, an engaging curriculum, respected qualifications and effective collaboration.

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Reading can 'unlock the door to lifelong creativity'

Reading can help lead to creativity, employment and an enjoyment of learning according to the National Union of Headteachers. It comes as a scheme to improve reading standards of 11-year-olds in Wales launches.

Reading well unlocks the door to lifelong creativity, employment and enjoyment of learning. Ten minutes a day is not much to spare a very young child but schools realise that there is much to do in building confidence and commitment in their wider communities. This campaign offers an opportunity to mobilise support for children who most need it and a win for them would be a win for Wales.

– Dr Chris Howard, Acting Director, National Association of Headteachers Cymru (NAHT)

'We must act now' to get more children reading

A campaign to improve the reading standards of children in Wales has been welcomed by Save the Children. The head of the charity in Wales said every child should be "given a fair and equal chance to learn to read well".

Children reading books Credit: PA

We must act now to change the story for our children in Wales. Read On. Get On. is about everyone coming together to write the next chapter and making sure that every child is to be given a fair and equal chance to learn to read well, regardless of their background.

– Mary Powell-Chandler, Head of Save the Children in Wales

Campaign to 'support parents to read with children'

A campaign to improve reading standards among children launches today Credit: PA

The aims of a new campaign to improve the reading standards of 11-year-old in Wales have been set out. The group, Read On. Get On say they aim to "create a nation of strong readers" by:

  • Supporting parents to read with young children for ten minutes a day.
  • Urging the public to volunteer to help disadvantaged children improve their reading.
  • Building a powerful coalition of the most influential public, private and charitable organisations to pledge to support the mission.
  • Urging all political parties to support the 2025 target.

Mission to improve children's reading in Wales launched

A campaign to improve the standard of reading among 11-year-olds in Wales launches today.

It's hoped children's reading abilities can be improved across Wales Credit: PA

The group Read On. Get On, is taking the lead in efforts.

Every year in Wales around 40% of 11-year-olds have a reading age below their chronological age according to a 2010/11 report from Estyn.

Another study by UK Read On.Get On. coalition found that GDP in 2025 could be £32 billion higher if action had been taken to ensure that all children were reading well by the age of 11.

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Welsh Government budget: Where is the money going?

The Welsh Government has changed direction on funding the health service. After a series of below inflation increases, the NHS will get an extra £425 million over two years.

It's an above inflation increase, worth an extra 3.2 percent next year. The Welsh Government says it will enable the NHS to transform its services.

But there are further cuts for local councils. Though there's extra money for schools, following a deal between Labour and the Liberal Democrats to get the budget passed.

Our political reporter, Owain Phillips, has been looking at what the budget could mean for the services we all rely on.

"Too little, too late" for NHS say Tories

The Welsh Conservatives claim that the extra money for the NHS in the Welsh budget fails to make up for the cutbacks already imposed on the health service. They also criticised the Liberal Democrats for agreeing to support the Welsh Government's spending proposals.

With shallow promises the Lib Dems are propping up a discredited Labour government, which has run down our NHS and whose incompetent bungling has seen Wales dragging along the bottom of UK league tables in school and economic performance.

The Lib Dems have caved in for less than three quarters of 1% of the Welsh Government’s £15billion annual budget, with shameless commitments, many of which were already in progress, in an attempt to aid their dire electoral prospects.

The Lib Dems have agreed to be Labour’s voting fodder until the next Assembly elections, when voters will cast their judgement on a decade and a half of Labour failure, dithering and underachievement.

– shadow Finance Minister Nick Ramsay AM

Whilst any additional cash for the NHS is to be welcomed this investment is a far cry from the record-breaking amounts that Welsh Labour has cut from the health budget in recent years. It is also too little too late for those who have seen their local hospitals and services closed or downgraded in recent years.

Under Labour, waiting times in Wales have skyrocketed, cancer patients are denied life transforming drugs, our ambulance service is in chaos and our emergency departments haven't met their targets for more than 5 years.

– Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar AM

Budget "short-sighted" say Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru has claimed that the Welsh Government's budget proposals for 2015-2016 will create long term problems for the NHS. Plaid have been involved in previous budget deals but refused to negotiate with Labour this year in protest at the plans for an M4 relief road around Newport. The new budget is backed by the Liberal Democrats who also oppose the road scheme. It includes money for design work on the new motorway but if goes ahead, construction work won't start until after the 2016 Assembly election.

Today’s short-sighted budget from the Welsh Government delivers a vicious blow for the services that we rely on. The UK Government’s determination to shrink public services is being continued by the Labour Government in Wales. The Labour party is doing the Tories’ dirty work for them.

Protecting the health budget without protecting the social services that support them is short-sighted, and scaling back social care will only put more pressure on health services in the long run.

Plaid Cymru took the conscious decision to withdraw from budget negotiations because the Welsh Government committed this government, and many governments to come, to the flawed and expensive £1 billion M4 scheme when there were better options available.

The Labour government’s failure to manage budgets has meant that it has been living hand-to-mouth for many years, and this budget is a continuation of that theme.

– Plaid Cymru Finance Spokesperson Alun Ffred Jones AM

Extra NHS money will close funding gap claims minister

Finance Minister Jane Hutt has told AMs that there will be an extra £425 million of extra funding for the NHS over this year and next. She said the additional investment responds "completely and fully" to the funding gap identified by the Nuffield Trust in a report commissioned by the Welsh Government. The Minister said the money would support the NHS "in making the changes it needs to make". She added that although local government would face cuts, councils would not face the same draconian decisions as in England. They would also receive an extra £10 million for social services.

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