Thursday, 21 April 2016


One of Charles Kennedy's three keywords (referred to in "What we stand for" earlier) was "justice". This has wider application, not just to the legal system. Children must not be unjustly excluded from the benefits of education because their parents are poor or because they develop differently from most. "Fairness" would be another way of putting it.

This morning, Kirsty Williams will be presenting our party policy on education, with particular emphasis on early years education. The pupil premium, for whose introduction to the UK Nick Clegg should be given much credit, will feature. Pressure from Liberal Democrat AMs ensured that the consequential money from the coalition policy was applied to the same purpose here and I believe that Labour ministers have now accepted the benefits, bringing fairness to schools otherwise handicapped by low income in the community.

The key policy, and one which Kirsty clearly feels passionate about, is to reduce class sizes to a maximum of 25. Not only does this mean that each primary school child will receive more individual attention, leading to proven educational outcomes (i.e., children learn to read, do sums etc. earlier and better) but it also reduces pressure on teachers.

I believe that not enough emphasis is put on early years education. That is not to say that more cannot be done in the secondary sector, nor that there are not still threats to what we have. It was reported from last night's broadcast leaders debate that:

Ms Williams clashed with Mr Gill after he agreed that youngsters who failed the 11 plus exam had felt written off. He said UKIP wanted to allow schools to become grammars "so they can become areas of focus and excellence for people". But when he was asked if pupils who failed the 11 plus felt "written off", Mr Gill said: "Absolutely." That earned immediate heckles from Ms Williams: "So do it again? Write them off again?" Mr Gill added: "What we're saying is have an education system that encourages students to learn about the things they want to learn about." Ms Williams replied: "We certainly wouldn't want to go back to a system which wrote many 11-year-olds off if they failed their 11 plus." "You can't have an artificial divide at 11 that then sets that [child's] future in stone," she added.

Read, read.

No comments: