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Education in Wales
Welsh Assembly Government logo.png
Department for Education and Skills
Minister for Education and Skills Huw Lewis
National education budget (2012–13)
Budget £1.854 billion
General details
Primary languages English, Welsh
System type National
Compulsory education 1997
Literacy (2003[1])
Total 99 %
Male 99 %
Female 99 %

Education in Wales differs in certain respects from education elsewhere in the United Kingdom. For example, a significant minority of students all over Wales are educated either wholly or largely through the medium of Welsh: in 2008/09, 22 per cent of classes in maintained primary schools used Welsh as the sole or main medium of instruction.[2] Welsh medium education is available to all age groups through nurseries, schools, colleges and universities and in adult education; lessons in the language itself are compulsory for all pupils until the age of 16.

Since devolution, education policy in the four constituent countries of the UK has diverged: for example, England has pursued reforms based on diversity of school types and parental choice; Wales (and Scotland) remain more committed to the concept of the community-based comprehensive school. Systems of governance and regulation - the arrangements for planning, funding, quality-assuring and regulating learning, and for its local administration - are becoming increasingly differentiated across the four home countries.[3] Education researcher David Reynolds claims that policy in Wales is driven by a "producerist" paradigm emphasising collaboration between educational partners. He also alludes to lower funding in Welsh schools compared to England, echoing similar concerns at university level. He concludes that performance data do not suggest that Wales has improved more rapidly than England, although there are considerable difficulties in making these kinds of assessments.[4]

The structure of the Welsh educational system[edit]

Compulsory schooling[edit]

A child's age on 1 September determines the point of entry into the relevant stage of education. Education is compulsory beginning with the term following the child's fifth (third in Wales) birthday, but may take place at either home or school. Most parents choosing to educate through school-based provision, however, enrol their children in the reception year in September of that school year, with most children thus beginning school at age four or four and a half. This is much earlier than in most other Western nations, reflecting a general trend towards less family time for UK children, and the subject of some debate as to its benefits.[5]

Primary education[edit]

In 2008/09 there were 1,478 primary schools in Wales with 258,314 pupils and 12,343 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio was 20 and the average class size was 24.4 pupils.[6]

In 2008 a unique new curriculum - the Foundation phase - was rolled out to all schools in Wales. It began for 3- to 4-year-olds and by 2011 is in place for 3- to 7-year-olds. It is based on experiential learning, in small groups, with a teacher ratio of 1:8 for the youngest ages. It has been acclaimed as 'one of the most significant acts of the Welsh government since it was formed'.[citation needed].

From Welsh government website:http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/earlyyearshome/foundation_phase/?lang=en The Foundation Phase places great emphasis on children learning by doing. Young children will be given more opportunities to gain first hand experiences through play and active involvement rather than by completing exercises in books. They will be given time to develop their speaking and listening skills and to become confident in their reading and writing abilities.

Mathematics will be more practical so that children can see how problems are solved and how important mathematics is in their everyday lives. There will be more emphasis on children understanding how things work and on finding different ways to solve problems.

The curriculum will focus on experiential learning, active involvement and developing each child’s:

  • Skills and understanding;
  • Personal, social, emotional, physical and intellectual well being so as to develop the whole child;
  • Positive attitudes to learning so that they enjoy it and want to continue;
  • Self-esteem and self-confidence to experiment, investigate, learn new things and form new relationships;
  • Creative, expressive and observational skills to encourage their development as individuals with different ways of responding to experiences;
  • Activities in the outdoors where they have first-hand experience of solving real-life problems and learn about conservation and sustainability.

Secondary education[edit]

Pupils in secondary school take part in the compulsory GCSE and the non-compulsory A-level qualifications at age 16 and 18 respectively. Since 2007 the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification has also been available as an option although it is ungraded. In 2008/09 there were 223 secondary schools in Wales with 205,421 pupils and 12,535 FTE teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio was 16.4.[6]

GCSE and A-level GCE results for 2011.[7] At GCSE, 66.5% of Welsh domiciled students gained grades A* to C, compared with 69.8% in England. At A-level, 23.9% of Welsh-based students gained A* or A grades, compared with 26.8% in England and the trend is consistent, with Wales have fallen back compared to England over the previous decade.

PISA results, by which the performance of Welsh pupils is compared to that of other countries, is also of enormous concern, with Wales lagging behind all other countries in the UK, leading to Minister Leighton Andrews to describe the performance as "unacceptable".[8]

Further education[edit]

Further education (FE) includes full- and part-time learning for people over compulsory school age, excluding higher education.[9] FE and publicly funded training in Wales is provided by 24 FE institutions and a range of public, private and voluntary sector training providers, such as the Workers' Educational Association. Colleges vary in size and mission, and include general FE, tertiary and specialist institutions, including one Roman Catholic Sixth Form College and a residential adult education college. Many colleges offer leisure learning and training programmes designed to meet the needs of business.[10][11][12] In 2008/09 there were 236,780 FE students in Wales.[6]

Adult community learning[edit]

Adult Community learning is a form of adult education or lifelong learning delivered and supported by local authorities in Wales.[13] Programmes can be formal or informal, non-accredited or accredited, and vocational, academic or leisure orientated.[14] In 2008/09 there were 57,170 learners in Community Learning.[6]

Higher education[edit]

Main Building of Cardiff University
St David's building of the University of Wales Lampeter - Wales' oldest University

Students normally enter higher education (HE) from 18 onwards. All undergraduate education is largely state-financed (with Welsh students contributing £1,255), and students are generally entitled to student loans for maintenance. The state does not control syllabi, but it does influence admission procedures and monitors standards through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

The typical first degree offered at Welsh universities is the Bachelor's degree, typically taking three years to complete full-time. Some institutions offer an undergraduate Master's degree as a first degree, typically lasting four years. During a first degree students are known as undergraduates. Some universities offer a vocationally based Foundation degree, typically two years in length.

Within Wales, medical undergraduate education is provided by only Cardiff University, while graduate fast track route training is provided at Swansea University. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of universities with their own degree awarding powers owing to the change in the University of Wales from a single awarding body for most of the Universities in Wales to a confederal structure, along with former institutes gaining university status. Overall there are 11 HE institutions in Wales including one music conservatoire, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff which is part of the University of Glamorgan Group. The University of Glamorgan, the second largest university in Wales, has never been a member of the University of Wales and awards its own degrees: the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama also awards University of Glamorgan degrees.

In 2008/09 there were 146,465 enrolments at HE institutions in Wales, including 66,645 undergraduates and 23,260 postgraduates. Welsh HE institutions had a total of 8,840 academic staff.[6]

In 2012, the minister with responsibility for education within Wales, Leighton Andrews, made a significant statement in relation to the merger of Cardiff Metropolitan University (CMU, formerly UWIC), the University of Glamorgan and University of Wales, Newport (UWN),[15] in which he proposed the dissolution of CMU and UN as part of the process towards merger. However significant such changes may seem, it is arguable that the effective imposition of an average undergraduate fee of £7.5 K pa for the three institutions (and others, but not to Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor and Aberystwyth all of whom will charge £9 K pa) will cause much more substantial long term damage to these universities and reinvent the 'binary divide' between universities and the former polytechnics and HE institutes.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Wales — Please support Wikipedia.
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WalesOnline

WalesOnline
Thu, 17 Apr 2014 03:24:40 -0700

The OECD report – Improving Schools in Wales – says nothing that should surprise anyone who is in education in Wales. That is its strength. It is a page-turner without a twist. One of the world's most respected education organisations assembled a team ...

South Wales Argus

WalesOnline
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 23:52:42 -0700

But seldom are independent reviews so dismissive of central government and the inadequacies of policy implementation by civil servants. Truth is, there aren't many immersed in Welsh education that will find these latest findings surprising. Former ...

WalesOnline

WalesOnline
Mon, 24 Mar 2014 06:52:30 -0700

Rather, he is a “glass overflowing” sort of bloke, particularly when it comes to the future of education in Wales. After upbraiding newspaper journalists for essentially being “glass half-empty” harbingers of doom, Prof Egan said the Welsh should move ...

WalesOnline

BBC News
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 00:21:21 -0700

"On some measures, education in Wales is no better than in some of the eastern European nations emerging from decades of communism." Mr Jones argued that good education is crucial in a wholly global economy and to compete in that market the young ...
 
ITV News
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 23:56:15 -0700

Plaid Cymru Shadow Education Minister, Simon Thomas, has called for the Welsh Government to "end the blame game" for education in Wales, after another international report found failings in the education system. A major review from the Organisation for ...

BBC News

BBC News
Wed, 26 Mar 2014 00:09:39 -0700

Despite the Welsh government having power over education in Wales, pay is controlled by the UK government. The UK government criticised the strike, saying it caused disruption for children and parents. More than 13,000 teachers from hundreds of schools ...

Spectator.co.uk (blog)

Spectator.co.uk (blog)
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 09:57:09 -0700

Speaking after a robust lecture from Tristram Hunt, Truss explained how the changes to education in Wales have set a dangerous precedent of what a Labour government might do. She pointed out that after abandoning national testing, Wales has fallen to ...
 
WalesOnline
Fri, 11 Apr 2014 03:18:45 -0700

In February 2013, I was asked by Leighton Andrews AM, then Minister for Education and Skills, to be a member of the Online Digital Learning Working Group which had the remit of advising on the challenges to higher education in Wales of emerging trends ...
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