Minister reveals his high hopes for Wales’ education performance in 2016

Written by: Greg Lewis | Published:

Wales’ education minister has high hopes that 2016 will be the year Welsh schools improve their ranking against other countries on the international stage.

Huw Lewis says he is “thoroughly convinced” Wales will improve its place in education world rankings and warned that failure to do so could limit the prospects of future generations.

Mr Lewis said he was confident that measures taken to redress Wales’ slide in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tables would pay off, when results are published in December.

Conducted every three years, the exam tests the knowledge and core skills of 15-year-olds.

It uses a representative sample of students from more than 65 countries to gauge how different education systems are performing against one another.

Welsh teenagers were ranked well below those in the rest of the UK the last time country-wide results were published in 2013. In reading it was ranked in 41st place in the world and its maths ranking was even worse at 43rd place out of 65 countries.

Mr Lewis, who himself is a former teacher, said: “We are going to do better in 2016 – I’m thoroughly convinced of it. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since kids last sat down for the PISA tests in 2012.”

He continued: “For instance we have seen a shift in maths with the adoption of numerical reasoning and numeracy – as opposed to just everyday maths – as a stronger part of the curriculum.

“We’ve got a new balancing of that subject and that’s going to pay off, in my view, in terms of international comparisons. We’ve also seen, in English and Welsh, a shift again in terms of rigour towards the use of language. These things are going to make a difference.”

While PISA has its critics, the Welsh Assembly has made improving rankings one of the country’s top priorities in education in recent years. One of the Welsh government’s advisors, Professor David Reynolds, has long argued the importance of PISA and is quoted as saying that a strong performance in the rankings is “vital for a nation’s economic prosperity”.

He argues that businesses are far more likely to invest in a nation that is seen by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – the study’s creators – to be succeeding.


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