The education inspectorate in Wales said that despite a gradual improvement in secondary school attendance over the past five years, absenteeism remained a concern in nearly one-third of schools inspected in the first three years of the existing inspection cycle and that it disproportionately disadvantaged vulnerable groups of pupils. The report looked at strategies and actions in secondary schools and local authorities to improve attendance, and made a range of recommendations.
Source: Attendance in Secondary Schools, HM Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales
A report examined the impact of the Higher Education Academy Future Directions programme, which aimed to support the enhancement of student learning experiences in Wales through partnerships between students and staff. The report said that the programme had achieved considerable impact at individual, institutional, and sector levels, had influenced policy, and had earned the respect of stakeholders within the higher education sector, extending beyond Welsh borders.
Source: Danny Saunders, The Future Directions Programme for Higher Education in Wales: Impact assessment report for the Higher Education Academy, Higher Education Academy
A report provided the findings of an independent review of childcare and early education registration, regulation, and inspection in Wales. The review concluded that historic development had led to an approach that was based on inspection of setting type rather than child need, and that this resulted in a complex and 'often inconsistent' system that had increased in complexity alongside changing policy approaches and social needs. The report made recommendations for change, taking a 'child first' approach and based on a simplification of the system via a single quality framework for early childhood education and care.
Source: Independent Review of Childcare and Early Education Registration, Regulation and Inspection, Welsh Government
A report examined the reasons for the apparent decline in Welsh admissions to Oxford and Cambridge universities, and considered ways to increase the number of successful applications in the future. The report presented recommendations, including for the development of a network of twelve hubs of expertise across Wales and the promotion of collaborative working between schools and colleges.
Source: Final Report of the Oxbridge Ambassador for Wales, Welsh Government
A report examined the outcomes from research on the existing level of demand for, and the availability of, Welsh as an Additional Language support for black and minority ethnic pupils in Welsh-medium and bilingual schools and Welsh language Latecomer Centres.
Source: Kathryn Jones and Arvind Bhatt, Welsh as an Additional Language: Research into the level of need and current support provided to black and minority ethnic pupils with Welsh language support needs, Research Paper 46/2014, Welsh Government
The children's rights watchdog in Wales said that provision of education in pupil referral units (PRUs) remained inconsistent, and that there was a need to change the general attitude towards the units. The report said that too many children and young people were sent to PRUs after their issues had gone unsupported and had escalated to a point where engaging in education was particularly difficult. It said that the units faced challenges in delivering the curriculum because of issues such as pupil needs, small staff numbers, recruitment challenges, and difficulties in finding good quality alternative and vocational provision for 14 to 19s. Whilst there were examples of good practice, some PRU staff reported finding difficulties securing support from other agencies, and in engaging parents. The report made a range of recommendations for Welsh Government and for the regional education consortia in Wales.
Source: The Right to Learn: Supporting children and young people at pupil referral units to reach their potential, Children's Commissioner for Wales
The Welsh Government began consultation on proposals to introduce a new legislative framework for supporting children and young people with additional learning needs, including: changes to the processes of assessment, planning, and monitoring; the provision of information and advice; and provision for resolving concerns and appeals. The consultation would close on 25 July 2014.
Source: Legislative Proposals for Additional Learning Needs, WG21275, Welsh Government
Links: White paper
A report by a committee of the National Assembly for Wales examined issues regarding higher education. The report made a range of recommendations, including: for the Welsh Government to commission more detailed modelling on overall student debt and the student loan book to estimate the long-term implications of student debt; that the Welsh Government should increase awareness of the tuition fee grant at an earlier stage in students' education; and for the Welsh Government to commission research into the balance of students' financial concerns.
Source: Higher Education Funding, Finance Committee, National Assembly for Wales
The Welsh Assembly approved the Education (Wales) Act. The Act was designed to replace the General Teaching Council for Wales with the Education Workforce Council, and introduce a new registration and regulation system of teachers, further education teachers, and learning support workers; change the way in which school term dates would be set; and amend the process through which Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, and Inspectors, of Education and Training in Wales would be appointed. Provisions regarding special educational needs had been removed from the Bill during Stage 2
Source: Education (Wales) Act, Welsh Government, TSO
A report examined education in Wales. It said that Wales had a number of strengths on which to build to move towards its key objectives (to improve students' performance in literacy and numeracy, and to reduce the impact of deprivation on student performance), but the challenges included: a high proportion of low performing students, with consequences for schools' ability to meet learning needs; recruitment, professional development, and career progression policies were underdeveloped; assessment and evaluation arrangements lacked coherence; and reforms lacked a long-term vision, an adequate school improvement infrastructure, and a clear implementation strategy. The report suggested a range of policy options to strengthen the education system over the longer term.
Source: Improving Schools in Wales: An OECD perspective, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
An article examined the socio-political drivers underpinning policy on sex and relationships education in Wales. Welsh Assembly Government guidance emphasized children's rights and citizenship values, and sought to make delivery more multi-disciplinary and integrated. Political rhetoric around sexual morality and family values was also different from, and more progressive than, that in England.
Source: Sarah Oerton and Anita Naoko Pilgrim, 'Devolution and difference: the politics of sex and relationships education in Wales', Critical Social Policy, Volume 34 Issue 1
The Welsh Government began consultation on proposals to clarify the responsibilities of local authorities and parents in providing and monitoring transport for pupils to and from education establishments in Wales, including issues around learner behaviour. The Children's Commissioner would provide support for engaging with children and young people in the consultation process, which would close on 13 April 2014.
Source: Proposed Guidance on Learner Travel Statutory Provision and Operational Guidance, Welsh Government