A Smarter Wales
Simon Thomas AM, Shadow Minister for Education, Skills and the Welsh language.
All the citizens of Wales should have equal access and opportunity to the best education; the widest cultural and sporting experiences and the right to either learn or use the Welsh language within their community.
Wales should have an education system rated among the best in the EU. The aim should be to enable the individual child to fulfil their potential regardless of economic background and enrich them with a sense of civic pride; deep knowledge of their past and equip them with all the tools to shape their own future.
As education minister, my priorities will be to:
Break the link between poverty/deprivation and educational outcomes
Raise standards in basic skills such as literacy, numeracy, IT
Support and share excellence in teaching and root out poor performance
Enable pupils to achieve both educational success and wellbeing according to their abilities and needs
Ensure every child in Wales is taught in Welsh during the Foundation Phase and is taught through immersion if second language thereafter
We will learn from the best examples of international practice and ensure Wales is always open to innovation and rejects entrenchment and special interests
The Foundation Phase principles and ethos will be maintained.
A single national curriculum will provide for core learning whilst enabling greater flexibility for schools and professionals to innovate, e.g. outdoor learning, third foreign language, Information Technology.
We will respect the professionalism of teachers and assistants, expect Continuous Professional Development and reward good practice with less bureaucracy
Examinations should be independently regulated, including a reduction in the confusing range that pupils are allowed to sit.
The portfolio I am responsible for also includes Skills.
There should be a closer alignment between under-graduate and vocational skills, especially at the higher level. The aim should be parity of choice. We need strong, viable institutions, including at least one Welsh university in the top world 100. Resources must be prioritised for students studying in Wales in Welsh institutions. This is already true of further education and must be extended to higher education.
Wales must be a seat of innovation for Higher Education, piloting ideas such as two year undergraduate courses (especially for those staying at home)
Our vision should be to equip all our young people with the highest level of skills possible, whether in Further Education or Higher Education and to ensure all young people stay in an education setting until 18 (eg school, college, apprenticeships, work with training)
And on the Welsh language, we will build on the principles of our Welsh Language Measure - that standards deliver rights. We see the private sector being essential to deliver the full range of bilingualism in Wales. The public sector will be expected to meet standards as will the private sector delivering any aspect of public good or public contract. The fully commercial sector will be encouraged and facilitated to develop Welsh language services.
For Wales to be at its best, we need a world class education system that provides our people with the skills needed for well-paid, high skill jobs.
You can read about our plans to provide full-time high-quality education for all children from the age of three in our consultation paper.