Set Goals around Teachers and Pupils; as the National Assembly Gets Down to Business for Its Second Session, Peter Black, Education Spokesman for the Welsh Liberal Democrats in the National Assemb Y, Looks Ahead at Some of the Challenges Facing Our Schools, Colleges and Universities

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 29, 2003 | Go to article overview

Set Goals around Teachers and Pupils; as the National Assembly Gets Down to Business for Its Second Session, Peter Black, Education Spokesman for the Welsh Liberal Democrats in the National Assemb Y, Looks Ahead at Some of the Challenges Facing Our Schools, Colleges and Universities


Byline: Peter Black

THE theory is simple. If you want to improve education in Wales, you don't have to say it three times, you just have to do it - once.

The trouble is, successive governments have hidden behind the slogans and tinkered so much that we have lost sight of the important people - our children.

And despite my own commitment to the idea of lifelong learning, our education system has to gear itself first to the needs of children.

We don't need a great reorganisation, or another Big Idea. We need to start listening to the people who know what they are talking about - teachers, governors, parents, pupils and students.

Teachers tell us they spend too much time on paperwork. We must take notice of what they say and free up their time so that they can do what they do best - teach children. Teachers also need time when they are not in front of a class so that they can prepare lessons and fulfil their pastoral role.

This is what smaller classes are all about. To get smaller classes, you need more teachers. If you have more teachers, they can have a better balanced working day.

Step One in the education challenge for Wales is to continue the work on bringing class sizes down below 30 - and then to move on and achieve classes with fewer than 25 pupils across the board.

Teachers also tell us that tests at the ages of 7, 11 and 14 are a distraction from the business of education.

We have already done away with the Key Stage One tests for seven-year-olds in Wales.

Our teachers can deliver the curriculum in a more imaginative and inspiring way without the constraints of the Sats. We can also trust them to assess children's ability as they teach, so that lessons can be tailored to pupils' needs.

Step Two for Welsh schools is for us to abolish the remaining Sats tests.

Head teachers and governors tell us local authorities get in the way of efficient management of schools. …

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Set Goals around Teachers and Pupils; as the National Assembly Gets Down to Business for Its Second Session, Peter Black, Education Spokesman for the Welsh Liberal Democrats in the National Assemb Y, Looks Ahead at Some of the Challenges Facing Our Schools, Colleges and Universities
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