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Education Standards

Volume 575: debated on Wednesday 12 February 2014

5. If he will discuss with the First Minister the standards of education in Wales and of Welsh jobseekers in England; and if he will make a statement. (902457)

I am concerned that Wales risks being left behind in the employment market. All young people deserve an education system that provides them with the qualifications, skills and training needed to compete successfully in the global jobs market.

You will know, Mr Speaker, that I served on the Committee that dealt with the Welsh Language Act 1993, that my mother is a Welsh language speaker and that I very much support bilingualism in Wales. However, does my right hon. Friend share my surprise that when I was debating the low standard of education in Wales with the Labour First Minister, he admitted that his Government took their “eye off the ball”? A whole generation of Welsh children was betrayed by the Labour Welsh Government.

The First Minister clearly did take his eye off the ball. The recent programme for international student assessment—PISA—ratings show the extent to which the Welsh educational system is failing. That is because the Welsh Government are pursuing a course that does not mirror the improvements we are making in England, and I very much hope that the new Welsh Minister for Education and Skills will learn from the reforms we are implementing.

12. My two children were educated in Wrexham in their early years. Does the Secretary of State share my concern about the PISA league tables, which he mentioned? What discussions is he having with the Welsh Assembly Government to try to ensure the very best education for all our children in Wales? (902465)

The Welsh Minister for Education and Skills has apologised for the failings of the Welsh Government, and that is a good start. However, they ought to examine the reforms we are implementing in England and give serious consideration to emulating them.