CBI wants 'urgent' Welsh government action on education

School cloakroom A fifth of children leave primary school with a reading age below nine-and-a-half years

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called on the Welsh government to take urgent action over the state of education in Wales.

A schools inspectors report found 40% of children reached secondary school with a reading ability below their age.

The CBI also points to international Pisa statistics from 2010 which found the attainment levels of Welsh 15-year-olds was behind much of the world.

The Welsh government said improvements were needed "across the board".

Emma Watkins, head of policy at CBI Wales, said: "This week's Estyn [schools inspectorate] report, when read with the 2010 Pisa statistics, makes for unhappy reading.

"According to Pisa, Wales remains at the bottom of the four UK countries for reading, maths and science.

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The Welsh government must take urgent action to raise the skills levels of our young people”

End Quote Emma Watkins CBI

"This is the first generation of school children to have been educated completely under the policies of the Welsh government.

"It clearly takes time to change education policies, but in our global economy the race for jobs is on."

She said Wales needed sustained higher skilled employment, and the education system and public agencies needed to play their part.

"In a world where more and more jobs require a minimum of level three skills or above, the Pisa and Estyn results make clear that the Welsh government must take urgent action to raise the skills levels of our young people," she said.

"The CBI and its members will gladly work with the Welsh government to make this happen."

High performance

Estyn's chief inspector Ann Keane said earlier this week her organisation was concerned about the standard of reading and writing "in a significant minority of primary schools".

Her report said 20% of pupils arrived at secondary school with a reading age below nine years and six months - generally considered the level of functional literacy.

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It's crucial if you're to improve you need to know how you are performing”

End Quote Welsh government spokesperson

But the foundation phase, for under sevens, won praise.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: "The minister [Leighton Andrews] has been absolutely clear that standards and performance in Wales, particularly in literacy in numeracy, need to improve across the board.

"That's why the minister announced his 20-point plan which will put in place a range of positive measures to achieve this."

The spokesperson added that consistency and high performance are "essential" in ensuring young people benefit from the best standards of education in Wales.

"It's crucial if you're to improve you need to know how you are performing.

"We are strong believers that accountability is at the heart of improvement - it's certainly our message to the sector. We will now take time to consider the report in full and will provide our response in due course."

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