Work must continue to improve attainment of those from poorer backgrounds, concludes Assembly committee

Work must continue to close the attainment gap for children from low-income families in Wales, according to an Assembly committee headed by Vale of Clwyd AM, Ann Jones.

The National Assembly for Wales’ Children, Young People and Education Committee has outlined 12 recommendations to the Welsh Government that include strengthening rules on parental charges for education activities.

Commenting on the report, Ann Jones AM said:

“The publication of my committee’s report comes at an important time as we monitor the effectiveness of a whole range of education reforms that the Welsh Government has put in place over the past few years. We have made a series of recommendations as a result of our comprehensive inquiry which considered a wide arrange factors which may contribute to low attainment amongst those from deprive backgrounds. Results in Wales are improving every year but we should always strive for better.

“It is clear from the evidence that is available that progress is being made to ensure that pupils from low income backgrounds achieve the results that they will need to get on in life. The Welsh Government has stated this as a key priority and I believe the initiatives already in place such as Schools Challenge Cymru and the Pupil Depravation Grant must continue, or even expanded.

“Locally, we have seen a remarkable turnaround of Rhyl High School. Schools across Wales could learn a huge amount from Rhyl High and its huge improvement in results. That’s why I am so thrilled to see the transformational Headteacher, Claire Armistead – working directly with the Welsh Government on his national leadership board, so that schools across Wales can benefit from the successes we have seen.

“I know that the Minister, Huw Lewis is personally deeply committed to removing the impact that poverty has on educational attainment. With his and the continued commitment of the Welsh Labour Government to this vital agenda, I am certain we can continue to improve educational outcomes for all pupils in Wales”.

The Committee has recommended that the Welsh Government:

• addresses reasons why the Foundation Phase – the curriculum for children between three and seven-years old – has “not had an effect on the attainment levels of children from low-income families”.
• Review whether a designated pupil deprivation grant is being used properly to help pupils from poorer backgrounds.
• Tackle “hidden costs” faced by low income families such as buying ingredients for cookery lessons.
• Make sure all school trips have an educational purpose so no child is prevented from taking part because of cost.
• Look into the progress of initiatives to promote parental engagement.
Education Minister, Huw Lewis AM has welcomed the report and will respond to it in due course.

The full committee report can be found at:
http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=6996