Poorest pupils in Wales fail to match English at school

 

Alan Milburn may be a former Labour cabinet minister, but today's "state of the nation" report by his social mobility and child poverty commission won't make pleasant reading for his party colleagues in Cardiff Bay.

Some of the comparisons between educational performance in Wales and England will also make bleak reading for parents of children in Welsh schools.

The report suggests the poorest children in Wales are significantly less likely to do well at school than children from similar backgrounds in England.

Pupils eligible for free school meals in England are 50% more likely to obtain five good GCSEs than their counterparts in Wales.

The report concludes that the gap between the most disadvantaged students and the rest is also higher than in England. "Wales performs less well than all regions in England, including comparably deprived regions like the North East."

It says: "Comparing just the population of children eligible for free school meals across England and Wales shows that 50% more FSM pupils reach the 5 A*-C at GCSE threshold (including maths and English/Welsh) in England than in Wales - although, at under two fifths of all children, the absolute level remains unacceptably low in England as well."

The report paints a bleak picture of school performance in Wales: "At age 5 the poorest children from Wales are a little behind the poorest children in England in vocabulary skills, but by age 7 a notable gap has opened up.

"By age 7 the word-reading ability of children in Wales is behind that of children in England and Scotland, irrespective of whether they are from families with relatively low or high incomes."

The Welsh government's deputy minister for tackling poverty, Vaughan Gething, said: "This report is an important contribution to how we help the poorest in our society. It says we are doing many of the right things and acknowledges that the rest of the UK could learn from what the Welsh government is doing, especially our efforts to make the experience of poverty less damaging to children and the way we represent school performance information.

"However, we are not complacent and tackling poverty is a daily battle where we can't afford to take our foot off the pedal. We are determined to do all we can and to use our resources to help those from our least well off communities to make sure they have the same opportunities as the rest of society. A key part of this will be breaking the link between poverty and poor educational attainment and helping children have the right start in life through our Flying Start programme.

"I believe we are doing more and going further than the UK government or any of the other devolved administrations in our efforts to tackle poverty. We are doing this against a tough backdrop, with cuts to welfare, the cost of living rising and a sluggish economy. Despite this we are unwavering in our commitment to do all we can."

Mr Gething may have been focusing on what the report said about poverty, but its conclusion that the poorest kids in Wales fail to match the modest school achievements of their counterparts in England will worry parents and politicians alike.

 
David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 132.

    #130 The major effect of dissociating Welsh qualifications from those in England wiill be to make English universities reluctant to accept students from Wales since they will be uncertain as to what their qualifications are worth. Still, they can all go to Aber and become teachers in WM schools.

    #131 Since in Cardiff, a Welsh speaker could be from Cardigan or Somalia, how is it racist ?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 131.

    Regardless of the discussion. I have mad e a formal complaint to the BBC and my AM and MP regarding the racist comments made. I am prepared to take this all the way
    115.dispozest

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 130.

    The drive by the Welsh Assembly Government to dissociate GCSE qualifications in Wales from those in England will mean that the results are comparable across the students of a population of 3m instead of 63million. It removes another way of being able to compare the performance of the Welsh Assembly Government against that of the UK government. No doubt, more Welsh civil servants will be needed.

  • Comment number 129.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 128.

    It's surprising how many people think that, for example, "the top 10% of results at GCSE deserve an A*". Surely, it's the absolute standard of achievement that counts, especially on the world stage. There could be 100% A*'s or 50% or 0% in reality. Anything else is just deception - exactly what UK Labour practised with their ever increasing pass rates. The Far East laughs at this, and profits.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 127.

    @109. The Welsh Assembly Government booklet you linked to is astonishing! As you said - see page 19. You could summarise it as - sophistry (deceiving whilst not actually lying): In the example, someone with a Welsh/English bilingual education is favoured for a job in the single country in the entire world where their skills would be considered useful (though still unnecessary). So parochial.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 126.

    Why are WM schools (and therefore their pupils) segregated from EM schools? Is this the Southern US 70 years ago? Why this apartheid?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 125.

    Few of us would have a problem if the remit of the Welsh in Education departments was to provide WM education to the kids of those parents that wanted it.
    Instead we have a SW (Celtic SJ) who work to promote Welsh whether parents or children want it or not. Their 'Love it or Leave' attitude is ludicrous in a minority. Essentially 'Any True Welshman' should want to be Welsh-speaking.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 124.

    As far as the single issue of underperformance of, particularly, pupils on Free School Meals. The Welsh language is part of the problem for several reasons; one is emphasis; the Welsh in Education department has 60 staff. The school standards department has 40 staff. How often do you hear of a concerted drive to improve the most disdvantaged Schools? How often do you hear of a new WM school?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 123.

    Problem. The Cost problem is in running two different medium schools side by side when neither is full to capacity. The Welsh system is hugely wasteful in that we cannot rationalise places effectively by amalgamation and closure of under capacity schools because we in Wales guarantee welsh medium school places.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 122.

    Just to clarify: I asked each and every LEA in wales for the £/pupil in each on their WM schools if that school was costed as an EM school. Some LEAs it made no difference (Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire) some LEAs it made little difference; WM gained a small amount. Some LEAs there was a significant WM premium or Weighting; Denbighshire nearly £1,million, Cardiff £650,000. This premium is Not the

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 121.

    #112 " You mean for parents who wish for their children to receive no welsh lessons whatsoever. We live in Wales. It's a core subject. "
    That is a classic case of begging the question. We ask 'Why is it a core subject?' One can live in most parts of Wales very comfortably and not speak a word of Welsh. [Agreed, fanatics are trying to change this, but it is still true]. Welsh is not useful !

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 120.

    Meanwhile

    100 AM's ? the devo machine must be stopped...where is True Wales when you need them?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 119.

    #118 Simple answer NONE.
    Parents have the law on their side to have their children educated according to their wishes, provided that it can be achieved without un-necessary public expenditure. ref 1944 education act as amended by 1996 act of the same name. Act still in force in Wales and still current. Just not promoted enough. The "law" is the only guidance that holds any weight.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 118.

    May I ask what democratic mandate exists for the notion that occasional Welsh MUST be taught in all classes in Wales and Monmouthshire, and hence for the de facto rule that preference is given to Welsh speaking teachers in EM schools.
    Do not tell us that this is 'historic'. The Welsh Not is historic.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 117.

    116. So Welsh pupils under performance is purely down to the education system is it? No. Many factors involved. I am challenging the farcical notion that pupils are underachieving because of the presence of welsh in the curriculum. 114. Nonsense, I've worked in both WM and EM schools. There's no WM pupil premium. I know for a fact that many WM schools receive less than EM schools in the same LEA.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 116.

    106.totallybiasedscarlet

    Not sure I agree with the underpowered goverment statement.
    They have full and plenty of power for Education, hense why this report shows its findings.
    I dont what these muppets down the Bay to have anymore power thanks.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 115.

    On social mobility - I wonder how many well qualified and economically active people have moved to or around Wales - especially into the Fro - only to find themselves unemployable or having to downgrade 'cos they can't/won't speak Welsh? I know quite a few such people and most have suffered from rapid downward mobility - can be so severe they end up with kids needing FSMs.

    Do their kids fail?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 114.

    100 Clearly - I do wish that you would get you facts right. I have never mentioned £600 or any other figure. You are clearly confused.

    There are many individual figures which can be used to support an individuals viewpoint so lets go with the WAG. The WAG has said that there is a pupil premium for WM - why do you think that they are lying?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 113.

    112 My stance for freedom of choices is based above all as apparent of two kids in Welsh education (15 & 9). I have no problem with some Welsh lessons but take exception when EM primary school only has Y Fro teachers and WL is taught 70% of available teaching time. My kids and their mates are underperforming

 

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