The rest of us can learn from what the Welsh are doing with education….

Two recent press releases have caught my eye. As PPC for North Devon, a rural economy where, on average, schools get £300 less per pupil than in the rest of England, I am keen on education reform. Key to that is ensuring good teaching and supporting our teachers.

So I was pleased to see that Welsh Lib Dem Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has announced the single biggest investment in Wales’ teachers since devolution. This is through a groundbreaking £24m package to help teachers deliver Wales’ new curriculum. Kirsty says,

This major investment shows how highly we value teachers’ professional learning. It is an investment in excellence and we are aiming for nothing less than a wholesale reform of how teachers learn; a process that starts from the moment they begin initial teacher education and goes right the way through their career.

The National Approach to Professional Learning (NAPL) will focus on flexible ways of learning that don’t disrupt the school day. A much more accessible blend of learning will be available through Wales’ regions and universities. This will encompass learning outside the classroom, online learning, classroom learning and coaching.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented,

This announcement is yet another example of the transformational reforms the Welsh Lib Dems are implementing in our national mission to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and public confidence.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are committed to creating a Wales where every child has the opportunity to achieve their potential and determine their own destiny. This funding will help us realise this vision.

Not only are the Welsh investing in teachers, but they are also protecting rural schools.  Kirsty Williams introduced a new, stronger code last week which includes a presumption against the closure of rural schools. This is part of a wider Rural Education Plan which also includes a Small and Rural Schools Grant.

Young people attending rural schools, whether in Wales or elsewhere in the UK, deserve the same level of education and support that learners in more urban areas receive. These rural schools are the heart of community life, with facilities often shared with the rest of the community. For example, when touring Chulmleigh Academy, North Devon, recently I was shown the new library and gym, both of which are used by the wider community as well.

Well done to the Welsh Lib Dems in leading the fight to champion rural education, and to support teachers more fully. Schools need more funding, not less, and our rural schools deserve better.

* Kirsten Johnson was the PPC for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election. She is a pianist and composer at www.kirstenjohnsonpiano.com.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Wales.
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6 Comments

  • The latest Lib Dem ad I saw on TV seemed to have no contribution by a Welsh MP/Senedd member. Such a strange turn of events when Kirsty Williams is doing such good work as the only Lib Dem in office.

  • I am sure we can learn from all the devolved educational governments. Though far from being an expert, it seems a real challenge to juggle rural and urban funding on a per pupil basis with the costs associated with teacher and pupil travelling, class sizes and the sheer logistics of smaller rural schools. I support small rural primary schools but not at any cost.

  • I am sure we can learn from all the devolved educational governments.

    I think this is perhaps more important than many realise, I suggest a requirement for good devolved government is good communication and sharing of experience.

    Much has been written about the case for regional assemblies etc. but little has been written about how they might work and learn together to deliver outstanding services to their residents.

  • It’s true, Kirsty has been doing fantastic work in Wales. There is a real buzz around education at the moment and it’s great to see. Also, the party in Westminster needs to be looking at Kirsty’s student finance reforms…. welsh lib dems leading the way!

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