Wales politics

Pisa tests: Generation written off by Carwyn Jones, say Tories

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Media captionPisa: 'We will not panic' says Carwyn Jones

First Minister Carwyn Jones has been accused of writing off a generation, after Wales again performed worse than the other UK nations in a study of international educational performance.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said Labour "needs to be embarrassed" by the Pisa test results.

Mr Jones said: "It's uncomfortable reading, I do not deny it."

Education Secretary Kirsty Williams accused some schools of entering pupils for science exams that were too easy.

Welsh students were below the average of 72 countries and economies in science, reading and maths.

For the fourth time in succession, they also did worse than their counterparts in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

During First Minister's Questions in the Senedd on Tuesday, Mr Jones said that the results were "a sign that we can never be complacent, I agree, it's a sign that there is work to be done".

Although there were "some signs of improvement, it is not good enough", he told AMs.

"What we will not do however is panic, throw everything up in the air when we know the advice we have had is we should stay on the track that we are on."

He also claimed that there had been substantial improvements in the Welsh education system since the 1980s.

Image caption Andrew RT Davies: "Are you prepared to write off another generation?"

In response, Andrew RT Davies said: "For goodness sake show some humility."He attacked him for referring back to the 1980s.

"You are in government, you are first minister," he told Mr Jones.

"The Labour Party has been in government since 1999.

"You have written off a generation, are you prepared to write off another generation?

"It's your own education secretaries who have come to this chamber time and time again."

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood accused ministers of being "complacent" and not taking responsibility for the results.

"The Labour government has predicted improvement," she said.

"We have heard it all before. Last year, your education minister said a huge amount has happened since the disappointing 2012 test results.

"He also said I would anticipate and I would hope for palpable improvements, so Labour has promised improvements and you are yet to deliver."

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Media caption"When Carwyn is rattled, what he does is to talk about Thatcher, and Thatcher, and Thatcher" - BBC Welsh Affairs Editor Vaughan Roderick

Later, in a fierce attack on schools, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams accused some of putting pupils in for science exams that were too easy for them.

Ms Williams became the only Liberal Democrat member of Mr Jones's Labour cabinet after May's assembly election.

"It pains me to say that a combination of cynicism, dumbing-down and lowered ambitions meant that a significant number of schools were in the habit of entering a high number of pupils just for BTEC science, rather than for GCSE," she told AMs.

"I am pleased to report that over the summer we saw an increase of over 5,500 more entries into GCSE across all the sciences."

Ms Williams said Wales' most able children had not performed across the board as well as they were expected because the priority in recent years had been to focus on increasing the number of children leaving school with five good GCSEs.

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