Former teacher Vikki Howells seeks Welsh Government assurances after PISA figures released

Cynon Valley AM Vikki Howells has welcomed assurances from the Welsh Government that it will continue with its package of education reforms after the publication of the latest PISA results.

Vikki Howells, with sixteen years classroom experience in secondary schools, was questioning the Education Secretary after the release of the latest data from the survey, which compares education systems around the world, and referred to the raft of initiatives the Welsh Government had brought forward to strengthen education in Wales. These include a new curriculum and new qualifications and proposed changes relating to supply teachers and teacher training.

The reforms are supported by teaching unions, but have importantly also received approval from the OECD, the international body that runs the PISA comparisons, and the Cynon Valley AM said it was important to give the reforms the opportunity to bed in.

Vikki Howells AM also asked the Education Secretary about the comparisons between PISA and GCSE performance in Wales. In Rhondda Cynon Taf, latest figures show that the percentage of learners meeting the Level 2 Threshold at Key Stage 4 has risen from 43% in 2009/10 to 56.8% in 2015/16.

Vikki Howells AM said:-

“Pisa may be the international benchmark but it is widely recognised as being a very crude educational measure bearing in many respects little relation to the skills required for GCSE.

“GCSEs are quite rightly the focus of teachers and students at the age of 15, and these are the measures that in reality lead to the qualifications which have a direct impact on our students’ futures.

“So, while PISA grabs the headlines it’s GCSE results which make a real and measurable difference.

“How we can merge these two competing progress markers together to continue improving and delivering the very best for our students?”