Labour: Wales has "some difficult questions to answer"

Today's international education rankings make sobering reading for the UK, and pretty bleak news for Wales.

The results themselves will be well covered elsewhere so I'll concentrate on some of the reaction here at Westminster.

Labour has been in charge of Welsh education since 1997, a point put to the shadow Education Secretary, Tristram Hunt on BBC Radio 4's Today. This is his response:

"Wales has some difficult questions to answer just as counties like Suffolk or Berkshire or cities like Wolverhampton or places like Herefordshire have difficult questions to answer not least when it comes to the attainment of children from disadvantaged communities and this goes back to the original point which is that the children who I represent in Stoke-on-Trent and elsewhere have to have the best teaching possible because they are often not going to get that kind of support at home."

Mr Hunt isn't the only Labour figure to acknowledge the problem: it featured prominently during Alan Milburn's recent review of social mobility.

The results suggest the performance of schools in England is failing to improve, which may be one reason why Michael Gove's people have been keen to highlight the relative underperformance in Wales. (Mr Gove also argues it is too soon for his own reforms to have made a difference).

A source close to Mr Gove claimed education in Wales had suffered due to the decision to abolish SATs in 2004 and the abolition of school league tables.

The education secretary is due to make a House of Commons statement later. I'll update here on any Welsh fall-out.