Schooling, Learning, and Education for all
Welsh Labour’s Promise to Wales
- Make sure that no-one is left behind by funding up to 1,800 additional tutoring staff in our schools for as long as they are needed. As part of our new Young Persons Guarantee, we will review and strengthen the Youth Engagement and Progression Framework to support young people at risk of disengaging from education and training.
- Invest more than £1.5bn in the next phase of the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme – the most ambitious scheme of new building in a generation. We will continue to work with local authorities to transform learning environments, develop net-zero carbon schools and open up school facilities for local communities.
- Continue to invest in learning, teaching and research in our colleges and universities to help them maximise their contribution to the local economy and national life and develop further as centres of international excellence. We will take The Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Bill through the Senedd and we will review Adult Education to increase the numbers of adults learning in Wales.
- Work with schools to help them meet the mental health challenges many young learners face, including additional counselling provision throughout the next Senedd term.
- Improve outcomes for our young people by supporting schools and teachers to deliver our world-leading Curriculum for Wales, which starts in 2022. We will reduce unnecessary bureaucracy to support school leaders to focus on what they do best – lead. We will implement the new Additional Learning Needs Act, to transform the experiences and outcomes for children and young people. We will work with partners to expand the teaching of modern foreign languages in our schools.
- Continue investing in the Pupil Development Grant, focusing on support for the pupils whose families are facing the greatest financial challenges. We will also protect the Education Maintenance Allowances for young learners.
- Maintain our commitment to provide free breakfasts for all primary school pupils, recognising how important it is for children to start the day right. We will also maintain our commitment to abolishing holiday hunger by building on our School Holiday Enrichment Programme. We will continue to meet the rise in demand for Free School Meals resulting from the pandemic and review the eligibility criteria, extending entitlement as far as resources allow.
- Appoint a Cabinet level minister to develop and take forward the proposals of the Youth Board for Wales. This will include working with local government and partners to legislate for a new framework for youth services in Wales.
- Make a reality of community-focused schools by investing in the learning environment, co-locating key services, and securing stronger engagement with parents and carers outside traditional hours.
- Explore reform of the school day and the school year to bring both more in line with contemporary patterns of family life and employment.
- Support the democratic role of local authorities in education and promote parity of esteem between vocational and academic routes in Welsh education. We will work with trade unions and local government to examine how a greater degree of federation can support education leadership across Wales and how we can strengthen professional learning communities.
- Develop a sustainable model for supply teaching that has fair work at its heart.
Over the last decade the Welsh Labour Government has led the most ambitious and far-reaching programme of reform in our schools, colleges, and universities for a generation. The success of our reforms has meant that the proportion of working age people with no qualifications in Wales has more than halved since devolution began and those with higher education level skills has gone from just over one in five to more than one in three.
The challenge of the coming term is to continue the long-term programme of reform that we have started – to embed Wales’ world leading, exciting and creative new curriculum in our schools; to complete the vital tertiary education funding changes we have started and to continue to develop stronger leadership at every level of our education system.
We will repair the damage done over the last year to the lives and life chances of our children and young people who have had their schooling and education disrupted by Covid. A Welsh Labour Government will ensure that educational inequalities narrow in Wales, not widen, and we will make sure that nobody is left behind as a result of Covid.
The Welsh Labour way has always been to seek positive change and improvement through collaboration and consensus. We will work with the most important assets we have – our children and young people, their parents and carers, and our workforce – to ensure the best outcomes for learners, particularly the most vulnerable.
What we did in government
- We have seen significantly improved A level performance - in Wales in 2019, 27 per cent achieved A*–A grades, the highest in the UK, up from 23 per cent in 2016.
- We have developed the new, world-beating Curriculum for Wales, following the Donaldson Review, and passed new legislation to make sure it is delivered in all our schools. We are also taking forward the Williams Report’s recommendations on the teaching of themes related to Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities and experiences.
- Through the Reducing Infant Class Sizes Grant, the Welsh Labour government has reduced the average infant class size to 23, employing an extra 165 staff and directly benefiting more than 6,000 children.
- We have successfully passed legislation this term that will transform the system in Wales for supporting children and young people aged 0-25 years who have additional learning needs.
- The Welsh Labour government has reduced the cost of the school day by extending financial support to more families. We were the first government in the UK to do the decent thing and guarantee free school meal provision for all school holidays up to and including Easter 2022.
- We have provided funding to extend the School Holiday Enrichment Programme for children in areas of high deprivation so that over 14,000 children will now benefit.
- We protected the Education Maintenance Allowances at £30 per week, scrapped where the Tories are in power.
- We have pursued our clear ambition of achieving a million Welsh speakers by 2050 by supporting the growing demand for Welsh medium provision and by embedding the acquisition of Welsh language skills across the new curriculum.
- We have invested in the quality of teaching and the professional development of all teaching and support staff. We developed the National Approach to Professional Learning and invested £31m into school budgets to allow them to create the time and space needed for professional learning.
- We have also developed a new Teaching Assistants learning pathway aligned to new Assisting Teaching standards and a new Aspiring Higher Level Teaching Assistant programme.