PLAID Cymru’s shadow minister for Education, Sian Gwenllian AM has said that a mixed picture in this year’s PISA results is a reminder that teachers need more money and respect.
She said Plaid Cymru would provide an extra £300 million a year to schools and colleges to tackle the funding crisis and allow teachers to ‘plan in the long term’.
PISA results published today show that Wales’ performance has improved but results remain lower than other parts of the United Kingdom. Sian Gwenllian said this year’s results showed a “slight increase” across the three areas but compared to 2006 there had been a “decrease in science”.
Paying tribute to the hard work of ‘all students’ and’ all staff and teachers’ for their tireless efforts, Ms Gwenllian said there were ‘big challenges facing the next phase’ and argued that the new curriculum needs time embed and adequate resources and opportunities were needed for the professional development of staff.
One in three new teachers leave the classroom within five years and since 2010-11 there has been an 8% reduction in real terms of spending per pupil leading to the dismissal of experienced teachers.
Ms Gwenllian said this led to a large number of children in classes and therefore less opportunity to address individual needs.
Sian Gwenllian said schools need a ‘constant injection of money’ to improve teachers’ working conditions and attract more new teachers into the profession and ensure resources ‘get to the front line’. She added that there was a need to ‘move away’ from specific grants and last-minute allocations.
Shadow Plaid Cymru Education minister Sian Gwenllian AM said: “Wales has in its young people a great deal of potential, talent, and skill and we must pay tribute to all students for their hard work as well as all staff and teachers for their tireless efforts to ensure our young people achieve.
“International PISA testing is one way of measuring progress but the data must be used wisely and I look forward to having the opportunity to analyse the content carefully over the next few days.
“There has been a slight increase across the three areas (maths, science, and reading) since 2015, which is encouraging. But compared with 2006 there was a slight increase in maths and reading, but a decrease in science. It must be remembered that there was a decline in all three areas in 2009 and 2012 and we are now just getting back to where we were in 2006. It is good to see signs that the results could be back on track after a long period of decline.
“Looking ahead, there are big challenges ahead for the next period.
“There is a need to continue the small increase since 2015 in a time of massive change in our education system and make sure that the new curriculum has time to embed, providing adequate resources and opportunities for staff professional development.
“With the advent of a new curriculum, our schools are experiencing a major funding crisis. Since 2010-11 there has been an 8% reduction in real terms of spending per pupil. Far too many of our most experienced teachers have to be made redundant as schools have to operate on less and less money as a result of cuts. This results in large numbers of children in classes, less opportunity to address individual needs and pastoral work.
“In addition, there are recruitment problems and one in three new teachers leave the classroom within five years.
“Schools need a steady injection of money and teachers’ working conditions need improving. They need to be able to devote their time to educating and inspiring their pupils and the profession needs to be made attractive to potential teachers leading to more teachers being recruited into our schools.
“That is why Plaid Cymru is pledging to provide an additional £ 300 million a year to our schools and colleges so that long-term planning can be achieved, and resources are delivered to the front line in an effective and timely manner moving away from specific grants and last-minute allocations. Our schools, our teachers and our pupils deserve nothing less.”