Leighton Andrews, Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning
I wish to update Members on our response to the PISA results 2009.
Firstly, I am setting some clear targets. We should aim to be in the top 20 of school systems measured in the PISA scores in 2015. We will aim to improve our results in the next PISA assessment in 2012 over the 2009 results. This is not an alternative to improving GCSE results – we need to increase performance, including performance in reading and mathematics, and reduce variation across the system.
In order to secure a step-change in performance, there are a number of actions that we will implement:
- I have asked my officials to examine whether we can revise initial teacher training so that it becomes a two-year Master’s course, with more classroom practice, so that teachers are familiar with advanced teaching skills. Officials will examine whether this can become the standard entry qualification for teaching in Wales. There will be a statutory requirement on all qualifying teachers to be trained in literacy and numeracy. All new ITT entrants will have been required to pass literacy and numeracy skills tests on entry and exit. One inset day per year will be focused on literacy and numeracy assessment for all teachers.
- I will be reviewing teacher induction, alongside our review of the GTCW. Development and support for the first three years of teaching will focus on firm foundations for the teaching of literacy and numeracy. All NQTs will have to meet Practising Teacher Standards.
- Continuous Professional Development will in future be focused on system-wide needs, including literacy and numeracy, linked to the 3 priorities of the School Effectiveness Framework, and to the application of the skills framework.
- I will ensure that all teachers and headteachers have appropriate levels of literacy and numeracy as part of their professional accreditation.
- If there is poor behaviour in the classroom, children cannot learn. I have already announced some extensions to teachers’ powers last autumn in respect of the use of force by school staff, as well as the school’s ability to discipline pupils and impose sanctions. The next phase will concentrate outcomes and improving behaviour to raise standards. All newly qualified teachers will undertake development modules in behaviour management as part of their induction process.
- The Foundation Phase, which is fully rolled out from this September, and which introduces children to learning through doing, will not be allowed to lead to a reduction in literacy. The baseline assessment provides us with the floor and will be supported year on year with continuous assessment. I will address variability in teaching practice.
- As part of our National Literacy Plan, I am introducing a national reading test which will be consistent across Wales and will be designed to ensure that far fewer pupils are falling behind their designated reading age. The Plan will also include a focus on 7-11 year-olds, and catch-up reading programmes as well as stretching those pupils of the highest abilities.
- By the 2012/13 academic year, similar plans for numeracy will be developed.
- Performance will be our driver. To support the drive to improve performance, I am creating a Standards Unit to lead performance and provide challenge on a national basis.
- I will not approve any new initiatives unless they add value to our demand for higher performance.
- I am introducing a national system for the grading of schools which will be operated by all local authorities/Consortia.
- I will be looking to integrate PISA assessments into school assessment at 15.
- Use of data is critical to performance. From next year, no school will pass an Estyn inspection unless it can demonstrate that its governing body has discussed the family of schools data and other relevant performance data, and has set in place actions to improve its position. I will be writing to all Chairs of Governors to make this clear.
- In the Education Measure, I am introducing statutory training for governors and effective clerking.
- I expect all local authorities to ensure that Key Stage 2 teacher assessments are robust and consistent with the nationally defined standards, especially in respect of literacy.
- Where a school is found by Estyn to be failing, and I regard the situation as irredeemable, I will close it.
- I will be changing the performance management provisions for headteacher performance management and teacher performance management to enable closer monitoring of their approach to raising standards, engaging local authorities and consortia in this.
- I will be producing Statutory Guidance for school improvement.
- In the Education Measure, we are taking powers to allow local authorities to federate boards of governors of schools. I expect to see more federations of schools, operating under single headteachers.
- I expect local authorities to participate in consortia arrangements, including shared consortium services, or suffer financial penalties.
I will keep members informed.