Cynon Valley AM seeks assurances on Schools Challenge Cymru success

After the announcement that Schools Challenge Cymru is to end, Vikki Howells AM has called on Welsh Education Secretary Kirsty Williams AM to make sure successes achieved under the programme are built on and shared throughout the Welsh education system.

Under Schools Challenge Cymru 40 Welsh secondary schools, including Pontypridd High School in the Cynon Valley constituency, were challenged to improve their GCSE results through getting access to expertise and more resources.

Evidence showed that the policy, which built on similar initiatives in London and Manchester, had delivered a positive impact on the majority of participant schools, with many experiencing enhanced examination performance.

Vikki Howells AM said:-

“I recently visited Pontypridd High School in my constituency and had a useful discussion with the headteacher on how Schools Challenge Cymru was helping them to drive up standards.

“For example, 2016 marked their best ever performance in terms of GCSE results.

“Having taught myself in a Schools Challenge Cymru school, which last year was the second best improved school within the Schools Challenge Cymru cohort, I know also of the positive benefits that the programme has brought in terms of staff morale and student morale.

“Schools Challenge Cymru is benefitting participant schools, there’s no doubt about that, and I’m keen that any progress is not lost.

“What lessons can the Welsh Government take from the programme so we can further build on progress made and share best practice more widely within the education system in Wales?”

Education Secretary Kirsty Williams AM replied:-

“I would like to congratulate Pontypridd High School on their reported improvements.

“I’m committed to building, as I said, on the progress made in schools, ensuring that the lessons are learnt about how we can share that across the wider school system.

“We’re working closely with local authorities and the regional consortia to ensure that exit plans for all schools are robust and in place and that we take a holistic approach, so that the successes that you’ve seen in those schools that you have visited continue, and that best practice can be shared as part of our commitment to a self-improving schools system.”