Education

A better future for our children

Education is the key investment we make in our children. Education is the way to ensure everyone can reach their full potential, makes our economy strong and provides a route out of poverty.

Our schools will only improve when we give teachers the tools, training and freedom they need to inspire and educate our children. Schools face too many restrictions and too much control from the Welsh Government. The underfunding of schools is the greatest scandal of devolution and has left children with little aspiration to succeed in life, trapping them into the intergenerational poverty we see across Wales that leads to further poverty, poor health and a cheap economy. Aled Roberts AM talking with pupils

We can break this link by investing in our education system. A child's life chances are determined at a very early age, with all the evidence showing that children from disadvantaged backgrounds perform on average less well than their peers. All children deserve the right to be allowed to flourish.

To help all children to reach their full potential and narrow the attainment gap between those from poorer and more affluent backgrounds, the Liberal Democrats have championed the Pupil Premium. This targets resources at those children most in need, enabling schools to provide the necessary resources for all children to get a good start in life. In Wales, thanks to a budget deal with the Welsh Government, we secured a Pupil Premium, known as the Pupil Deprivation Grant, of £450 per eligible pupil to help those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. The English Pupil Premium will rise to £1,300 by 2014/15 and we will continue to campaign in Wales for more funding to ensure that Welsh pupils are not left behind.

Vocational courses are the backbone of many professions, helping to tackle poverty, drive economic growth and develop the skills base that we need in Wales. We will work to increase awareness and raise the profile of vocational opportunities, such as apprenticeships, so that pupils are well informed about the options for their future. We will ensure parity of approach between vocational and academic courses and encourage employers to offer more apprenticeship places to widen the opportunities that are available..

Higher education plays a vital role in helping individuals to develop their skills and enhance their career prospects; but also in forming a knowledge base that can help Wales to grow socially and economically. Liberal Democrats have long championed the need for vibrant, well-funded, independent universities in Wales, accountable to key stakeholders, and able to deliver high quality teaching in an excellent learning environment and undertake internationally significant research. We firmly believe that access to higher education should be determined solely by academic ability and should not be constrained by social background, geography or financial resources.

In government, Welsh Liberal Democrats will prioritise…

Putting Pupils First

Conference in Spring 2013 passed our paper Putting Pupils First: Improving school standards in Wales. This policy paper proposed introducing individual pupil monitoring, increasing the Pupil Development Grant, and delivering a Middle Phase Strategy of pastoral and academic support for the 8-14 phase.

Pupil Deprivation Grant

The Pupil Deprivation Grant was introduced in 2012 following a budget deal between the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Government, which secured over £32million to help reduce the impact of poverty on educational attainment. This year we are proud to have secured a further budget deal which will more than double the value of the Pupil Deprivation Grant. Schools will now receive £918 per pupil aged 5-15 on free school meals; more than double the current £450 per pupil.

Evidence is growing that the Pupil Deprivation Grant is making a difference to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in Wales and we recently conducted a survey on the impact and implementation of the PDG in schools to date. It was clear from the responses that a wide variety of creative interventions are being supported by funding from the PDG and schools highlighted the significant impact that the grant is having on pupil outcomes, on raising standards in literacy and numeracy and enhancing confidence.

You can read a copy of our report here:

English/Saesneg: Learning Lessons From the Pupil Deprivation Grant

Welsh/Cymraeg: Dysgu Gwersi o'r Grant Amddifadedd Disgyblion

Higher and Further Education Policy

Our Higher Education Policy Paper, Fairness and Freedom in Higher Education, was passed by Conference at our Autumn 2013 Conference at Gregynog. It proposed introducing a Student Living Support Grant to help students with the day-to-day cost of living funded by withdrawing the Tuition Fee Grant, introducing an Employability Enhancement Bursary, and opposing the forced merger of higher education institutions.

Our Further Education Policy Paper, Future for Further Education, was passed by Conference at our Spring 2014 Conference in Newport. It proposed providing learners and businesses with better information; creating a Welsh National Cyber College; and reviewing post-16 qualifications and curricula in Wales including the delivery and appropriateness of the Learner Skills Measure, the Welsh Baccalaureate, and the feasibility of adopting the International Baccalaureate as the standard qualification in Wales.

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