2010's Been a Whirlwind Year for Education in Wales Packed with Controversy, Protests and Fresh Vision for Skills and Standards; Education in Wales Underwent a Minirevolution in 2010. Changes to the Sector's Hierarchy Brought Fresh Ideas, Policy and a Burning Desire to Raise Standards. Gareth Evans Looks Back on a Whirlwind Year for Our Schools, Colleges and Universities

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Byline: Gareth Evans

January As the economic upturn is confirmed, First Minister Carwyn Jones says improving skills will be crucial toWales' post-recession recovery. At the launch of SkillsCymru, the nation's largest-ever careers event, Mr Jones calls for versatility within the Welsh workforce. Pupils from less wealthy backgrounds and from ethnic minorities are the most likely not to fulfil their potential, according to education watchdog Estyn. In his last annual report, Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales Bill Maxwell says there is an urgent need to drive inequalities in teaching out of the system.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews commissions a major independent review into how funding in Wales is allocated to schools, colleges and universities.

Latest spending statistics show Wales spends an average of pounds 527 a year less on each child's education than in England.

February A sum of pounds 110m is allocated by the Assembly Government for the transformation of education in the South Wales Valleys. Plans to boost learning in the Heads of the Valleys region include the creation of controversial tertiary facilities inEbbw Vale and Merthyr Tydfil.

Carmarthenshire council earmarks pounds 60m for the development of schools in the county. The proposed injection will be spent improving accommodation and facilities in the Dinefwr area. Preferred sites are selected and thousands of pupils set to benefit.

Ann Keane is appointed the new Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales following the resignation of Bill Maxwell. Dr Maxwell, who held the position for two years, returns to Scotland to succeed Graham Donaldson asHMSenior Chief Inspector of Education.

March Education Minister Leighton Andrews announces plans to review the way in which Welsh universities are run. The review of higher education (HE) governance in Wales will focus on whether university governors are strong enough to hold vice-chancellors and management to account. Mr Andrews says governing bodies have a responsibility to deliver value when spending pounds 400m a year of public money.

Figures reveal Wales has the highest proportion of 15-year-olds learning science than anywhere else in the world. But the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Pisa survey ranks Wales 15th in a league of countries on mean score, behind the likes of Austria, Belgium and Ireland.

The Higher Education Funding Council forWales (HEFCW) announces a reduction in university grants from pounds 433.8m in 2009-10 to pounds 403m in the next academic year. All 11 universities in Wales are to see teaching budgets cut in line with Assembly Government proposals for HE.

April The legal alliance between Coleg Llandrillo Cymru in Conwy and Denbighshire and Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor in Gwynedd is approved by the Assembly Government.

The resulting merged college is one of the largest in the UK, with around 1,300 staff and more than 21,000 students at nine different campuses. The number of young people not in education, employment or training (Neet) in Wales falls, according to research. A study by Careers Wales for the Assembly Government, shows the total number of 16-year-old school-leavers without work has dropped to 5.7% from 7.1% in 2008.

Julie Lydon becomes the first woman to hold a vice-chancellorship in Wales after taking top job at the University of Glamorgan. Mrs Lydon was deputy to outgoing vice-chancellor David Halton, who retired after five years in the post.

May Education Minister Leighton Andrews publishes a review into the cost of administering education in Wales. It reveals that around a third (32%) of annual education expenditure in Wales is spent on support services, such as service management and financial administration. Conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, it found that just 44% of a budget of more than pounds 4bn was used on teaching. …