Schools Are Failing to Prepare Students for College, Says Survey; MANY FIND TRANSITION TO HIGHER EDUCATION DIFFICULT

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Byline: GARETH EVANS

NEARLY all Welsh undergraduates believe their school or college has not prepared them well enough for university, according to a survey published today.

A study of more than 1,000 students found that 96% of current first-year university learners felt unprepared for the transition into higher education.

Less than half (43%) felt they lacked the necessary study skills required and a quarter (25%) said they would have benefited from more in-depth study of a subject earlier in their education.

The survey reflects badly on Wales' creaking education system, which has been subject to heavy criticism in recent months.

The inquest began with the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which uncovered an alarming slide in school standards and found Wales propping up the UK class in basic skills.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study was followed by a report from schools inspectorate Estyn, which said many pupils' literacy and numeracy levels were not being properly developed.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of education union ATL Cymru, said today's findings were disturbing.

"We have replicated here the same sort of transition pains that we find in earlier years - the move from primary to secondary, and secondary to tertiary," he said.

"We obviously need to get the sectors talking to each other more effectively so that they can understand the needs and restraints of each. But there is a more profound debate that now needs to start about the curriculum in our schools which is still over prescriptive and lacking in freedom and interest." Dr Dixon said the national curriculum is restrictive and "too much of a straitjacket" on pupils and teachers.

"It's not surprising that the current regime does not produce the skills that university students need," he said.

In England, the percentage of first-year undergraduates unprepared for university was lower than in Wales.

But half of students polled across the border said they lacked the basic study skills needed for higher education, according to the University of Cambridge International Examinations department. …