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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?

Welsh government responds to bullying report

“All pupils should be able to carry out their daily school life free from bullying. We encourage schools and local authorities to study the report closely, learn from those schools where best practice was observed and consider how they can implement those recommendations relevant to them”.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

It says it has issued a series of materials called Respecting Others which give anti-bullying guidance:

"Included in the guidance are five key sections - homophobic bullying; cyberbullying; bullying on the basis of race, culture and religion; sexist, sexual and transphobic bullying; and bullying involving pupils with SEN and disabilities. We are currently in the process of publicising the guidance more widely."

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

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Bullying 'still a concern in Welsh schools'

The report says not enough schools record bullying incidents Credit: PA Images

Inspectors say too many pupils suffer from bullying during their school lives.

A report published today by Estyn also says schools have a responsibility to tackle bullying in all forms under the Education Act 2002, but the ways in which schools deal with bullying varies widely.

'Action on bullying', found that even schools with good strategies to address the problem don't have a common understanding of how important it is to focus on groups of pupils with a higher-than-average risk of being bullied.

They include gay, lesbian and transgender pupils, those with a disability and pupils from a minority ethnic background.

10,000 free books for children living in Wales' disadvantaged communities

It's hoped the books will highlight to parents the importance of reading Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

New funding has been announced today by the Welsh Government, to provide 10,000 free books to children in Wales' most disadvantaged areas.

Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty Vaughan Gething has revealed children living in 'Flying Start' areas will benefit from the books to help with continued learning at home.

Each child eligible for the scheme will receive a book bag containing a bilingual and an English language book, a set of crayons and a scribble pad.

Flying Start aims to make a difference to the lives of children under the age of four and their families, in the most deprived communities.

It's hoped the extra books will highlight to parents the importance of reading with their children, to improve their language development.

The books, costing £100,000, will be available from this month.

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Cut red tape for teachers says Plaid

Plaid Cymru has pledged to cut red tape for teachers to allow them to concentrate on teaching with minimal bureaucracy. Education spokesman Simon Thomas told the party's conference a future Plaid Welsh Government would give schools more freedom.

Having excellent teachers and heads sitting before a computer filling in forms or ticking boxes, or sweating over reports at home, is a waste of their talent and commitment. I want to see them freed up to teach at the whiteboard face as much as possible.

That’s why I’m proposing to set up a taskforce to work with teaching unions to cut unnecessary bureaucracy. We want to work with schools and give them the freedom to achieve.

I want to see a system where the Welsh Government sets learning outcomes for schools, but to allows them flexibility to decide how they want to get there. We need to nurture best practice, and teachers need freedom to do that.

– Simon Thomas AM, Plaid Cymru

'Too few young women' studying science in Wales

Boys 'continue to dominate scientific subjects at A Level'. Credit: Klaus OhlenschlÀger/DPA/Press Association Images

The Welsh Conservatives say fewer young women are studying science subjects at A Level.

Boys outnumber girls by five to one.

The Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales says a science plan's being developed.

It'll include actions to address the low take up of girls for A level physics.

£20m scheme launched to improve schools in Wales

The scheme will help secondary schools across the country that are under performing. Credit: PA

A new £20m scheme called 'School Challenge Cymru' will be launched this morning by the First Minister Carwyn Jones and Education Minister Huw Lewis.

It aims to help up to 40 Welsh secondary schools which are under performing and is based around schemes which have already taken place in Manchester and London, which supported schools to help them improve.

Councillors vote to reduce Valleys' nursery services

Parents have campaigned against nursery cuts in Rhondda Cynon Taf Credit: ITV News

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council's cabinet has voted to give the go-ahead to controversial plans to reduce the amount of time younger children spend in nursery classes.The council made two amendments, after widespread opposition from parents.

Children will be able to attend full-time nursery from the term after their fourth birthday, rather than having to wait until the September following their fourth birthday for full-time education via primary school reception as previously proposed.

The changes will be implemented from September 2014, rather than April, as was originally planned.

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