UK Education Secretary Michael Gove has pinned the blame for Wales' poor performance in the PISA results on Labour Welsh Governments. He told MPs that 'if you want to know what our education system would look like [under Labour] you only need to look over the Severn Bridge.'
But Labour MP Huw Irranca-Davies criticised the Education Secretary for that response. The Ogmore MP said there are failings in all parts of the UK and to 'make political capital... is the wrong approach.'
Welsh Conservative MP Guto Bebb asked Michael Gove if he blamed 'a £600 per head funding gap or a Labour [Welsh] government which has accepted teaching unions' dogma.' The Education Secretary said simply, 'both.'
Education Minister Leighton Andrews will face an urgent question in the Assembly on the letter from Education secretary Michael Gove. The Presiding Officer Rosemary Butler has allowed the urgent question to be raised in this afternoon's session.
Michael Gove's letter, which I understand the Welsh Government received this evening, marks acceptance by the UK Government of the of growing differences in the exam systems of the nations of the UK. Its tone is respectful and matches what sources described of the tone of last week's meeting.
The Welsh are determined to keep dumbing down their exams. Leighton Andrews interfered with exam boards last year. He opposes our attempts to toughen things up and made clear he will continue to interfere to make things easier. It's better that we all go our own way and defend our positions to our electorates.
Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews has taken to Twitter this evening to condemn those remarks.
So, @JohnODowdSF (Northern Ireland Education Minister) and I have a cordial meeting with Michael Gove in which he agrees to respect the different decisions in different countries
And a week later Whitehall sources, quoting directly from a comment in the meeting, start being offensive again.
So, for the record, I am happy to confirm that in that meeting Michael Gove apologised to me for his behaviour.
– Leighton Andrews AM, Education Minister (via Twitter)
The Education Secretary Michael Gove has written to the Welsh and Northern Irish Education ministers saying that 'the time is right' for the exam systems in Wales, England and Northern Ireland to separate. The Guardian reports that in the letter follows last week's meeting between the three men.