Wales politics

Pisa education test target still in place, Carwyn Jones says

Kirsty Williams
Image caption Kirsty Williams had told AMs pupil performance was "a much more complex picture"

A target to improve Welsh pupils' scores in global education tests remains in place, the first minister has said, despite comments by Education Secretary Kirsty Williams.

Carwyn Jones said ministers still wanted to see a score of 500 in every subject in the Pisa tests by 2021.

Mrs Williams told a committee of AMs last week: "It's not my target."

Mr Jones said that was true as she had not been in government at the time but he added there were other indicators.

The Pisa tests - a major study of educational performance - are taken by 15-year-olds in 72 countries every three years.

Students in Wales were the lowest of the UK nations in science, reading and maths in the 2016 tests, scoring 478 in maths, 477 in reading and 485 in science.

Introduced in 2014, the target of hitting 500 replaced the previous aim of seeing Wales ranked among the top 20 best-performing countries by 2015.

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Media captionAndrew RT Davies claimed Carwyn Jones had issued a "slap-down" to his education secretary

Mr Jones told the Senedd during First Minister's Questions on Tuesday: "Achieving 500 in 2021 remains the Welsh Government's target.

"The cabinet secretary was correct in the sense that she did not set the target because she was not the minister at the time.

"But she is part of the government that is adhering to that target, but remember the target is one diagnostic indicator among many others such as GCSE performance and closing the attainment gap and school categorisation and Estyn inspections."

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies described the response as a "slap-down" to Ms Williams.

He told Mr Jones: "You have got you saying one thing, that a target exists, and you have got the cabinet secretary confirming in front of a scrutiny committee of this assembly that it is not her target.

"Who is taking ownership of education here in Wales? Is it any wonder it is such a complete shambles under your leadership?"

A Welsh Government source denied Mrs Williams had been overruled, saying the first minister was stating the facts.

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