'A Wake-Up Call to Those Who Care about Education Future'

Article excerpt

Byline: Gareth Evans Education Editor gareth.evans@walesonline.co.uk

LEADING business groups have described Wales' education rankings as a "wake-up call" and made clear the importance of good schooling on the nation's economy.

CBI Wales director Emma Watkins said yesterday's Pisa scores were "unacceptable" and the Welsh Government needs to empower headteachers to deliver better performing schools.

It followed Wales' alarming slide in the respected Pisa tables, which are considered by the world's industrialists when investing in overseas markets.

Ms Watkins said: "High-performing schools are the best way to support economic growth and greater opportunity. These figures should be a wake-up call. UK schools are treading water when we know that matching the very best could boost the growth rate by one percentage point every year.

"No issue matters more to the UK economy over the long-term than the quality of our education system. It's not acceptable for Wales to have slipped so far behind, and this should be a wake-up call to those who care about the future of the Welsh education system.

"Increasing our focus on maths and English will result in better performance, but we also need to support schools to create vibrant environments for developing the behaviours young people need for success in life and work. It's clear from the findings that resilience in young people is a predictor of high performance.

"Empowering heads to deliver better schools is the right choice, but the Government needs to support them.

That means using Estyn [the nation's inspectorate] to assess a more rounded picture of a school and its development, and strengthening the oversight provided by school governors."

Robert Lloyd Griffiths, of the Institute of Directors in Wales (IoD), said the Pisa figures were cause for "grave concern".

He added: "Wales' results are bitterly disappointing as a modern economy needs well-educated, numerate and literate individuals coming through its education system in order to gain the competitive advantage on the unforgiving global stage. Countries with an unrelenting focus on the quality and rigour of its education system will be the ones who win that race.

"Unfortunately, thanks to historic complacency, the UK appears to have its feet shackled at the starting line. These figures quite clearly demonstrate that we are at a considerable disadvantage here in Wales and this causes us grave concern. …