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The goal for a prosperous Wales
An innovative, productive and low carbon society which recognises the limits of the global environment and therefore uses resources efficiently and proportionately (including acting on climate change); and which develops a skilled and well-educated population in an economy which generates wealth and provides employment opportunities, allowing people to take advantage of the wealth generated through securing decent work.
Children’s development on entry to primary school
Children in Wales are assessed through the Foundation Phase Profile during their first 6 weeks following entry into primary school (reception class). This is used to determine the stage of development and interests of the child according to the Foundation Phase Profile and framework. A new curriculum is being rolled out in Wales from September 2022. As a result, data for the academic year 2021 to 2022 relating to the curriculum for Wales 2008 will be the last in the series for this indicator.
The data reflect the wide range of developmental maturity that is expected at this age. This is well within the normal range for children at entry to school, especially with the age variability at the point of school entry. In the 2021/22 academic year 54% of pupils aged 4 were at a stage of development in mathematics that would be consistent with or greater than their age according to the framework, with 87% of pupils within one stage of the development consistent with their age. In language, literacy and communication in English 53% of pupils were at a stage of development that would be consistent with or greater than their age, with 85% of pupils within one stage of the development consistent with their age.
The picture is different for language, literacy and communication in Welsh, where 27% of children were at a stage consistent with their development. This is due to children from non-Welsh speaking families being enrolled in Welsh medium schools
For all areas of learning there was a different distribution of developmental progress for boys compared with girls, as they mature at different rates, and on average girls were at a higher stage of development.
One of the areas in which children are assessed is in personal and social development, well-being and cultural diversity. In this area of learning 64% of pupils aged 4 were at a stage of development that would be consistent with or greater than their age according to the framework, with 87% of pupils within one stage of the development consistent with their age.
Attainment in primary and secondary school
Attainment in secondary schools rose in the years before the pandemic, although children from deprived backgrounds still have poorer outcomes.
Following the cancellation of public examinations in summer 2020 and summer 2021, all grades that would have been awarded following an examination were replaced with the centre assessed or determined grade. Results at the end of key stage 4 (the end of compulsory schooling) show that the percentage of GCSE entries at the grade range A* to A increased from 19.5% in 2019 to 29.5% in 2021. Results at grade ranges A* to C have had a similar increase in the same time frame from 65.1% to 75.1%.
International comparisons made under the OECD’s PISA assessments suggest that in terms of reading, Welsh 15-year-olds continue to lag behind the rest of the UK. As of PISA 2018, there is no significant difference between Wales and Northern Ireland or Scotland in maths and science. Internationally Wales no longer performs below the average of OECD nations.
Participation in education, employment or training
Using the main measure of young people in education, employment or training, there were decreases in both the 16 to 18 and 19 to 24 age groups between 2017 and 2019. The proportion for both groups then increased in 2020. For 16 to 18 year olds, this followed a period where the proportion remained stable at around 89 to 90% between 2012 and 2018.
The effect of the 2008 recession was felt more sharply by the 19 to 24 age group. Since then and up to 2017, the share in education or the labour market gradually increased. At the end of 2020, the first increase since 2017, the rate stood at 84.8%, nearly 8 percentage points higher than in 2012.
Relative income poverty
People living in relative income poverty are those who live in a household where the total household income from all sources is less than 60% of the average UK household income (as given by the median).
Children are more likely to be in relative income poverty than the population overall. In the most recent data available for Wales there was a small increase in the rate of children in relative income poverty (after housing costs were paid), up to 31% in 2017 to 2020.
In the most recent period of 2017 to 2020, 71% of children who were living in relative income poverty lived in working households (around 140,000 children). This has increased for the last five periods from 60% in the period 2012 to 2015.
A person is considered to be in persistent poverty if they are in relative income poverty in at least 3 out of 4 consecutive years. An individual in Wales had a 12% likelihood of being in persistent poverty between 2016 and 2020 (after housing costs were paid). A child in Wales had a slightly higher likelihood of being in persistent poverty at 13%.
Single parent households were more likely to be in material deprivation than other types of households; 49% of single parent households were in material deprivation in 2021-22 compared with 14% of households with two adults and children, and 6% of households comprising two adults with no children.
Of those who are parents, 6% have children who would be classed as materially deprived. Children living in social housing were more likely to be in material deprivation than those in private rented accommodation or owner-occupied homes.
Previous evidence from the 2018-19 National Survey suggests that even when parents are materially deprived, they appear to try to protect their children from the experience of child-specific material deprivation.
For children, the likelihood of being in relative income poverty is strongly linked to the employment status of adults in the household. In Wales, 11.0% of children lived in a workless household in 2020, compared with 9.9% of children in the UK. In Wales there has been a decrease since 2016 (14.0%), and a significant fall from a peak of 20.0% in 2009. 24.4% of children in Wales live in a household where at least one (but not all) adult works, and 64.5% live in a household with all adults in work.