Improving the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) performance and offering students internationally respected qualifications are part of the Welsh government’s latest plan to drive up standards, under the banner Qualified for Life.
The plan for three to 19-year-olds reinforces the Welsh government’s key education priorities of raising standards in literacy and numeracy and breaking the link between deprivation and low attainment. It also sets out a new target of achieving scores of at least 500 for reading, mathematics and science in the PISA tests 2021.
However opposition politicians have branded the new targets as “feeble”, stating that England and Scotland surpassed this PISA score two years ago.
Since 2006, Wales’s performance in the tests has declined. In 2012, Wales was the worst performing nation in the UK.
Angela Burns AM, shadow minister for education, said: “Labour’s big ambition in education now is to raise Welsh performance from the worst performing UK nation to the second worst by 2021. This isn’t aspiration, but stagnation. This feeble new target shows a poverty of ambition for young people and is the dressing up of reaching mediocrity within a decade as some sort of achievement.”
Launching the new plan, education minister Huw Lewis said the four strategic objectives will help deliver improvements in the sector.
These centre around a strong workforce, an engaging curriculum, internationally respected qualifications, and education leaders working together to drive up standards.
Mr Lewis said the Qualified for Life document was a must-read for anyone in education, adding: “The benefits of an excellent education system are well understood. High-quality education drives economic improvement, increases general wellbeing, and results in a more equitable and successful society. This is absolutely what I want for Wales.”
Progress will be measured and improvement identified in the Wales Education Report Card which will be published annually.
It will detail a range of performance indicators and show how successful Wales has been in meeting them.