Welsh Government “gathering evidence” on delayed school entry for summer-born children

(Title Image: memegenerator.net)

Here’s a summary of this afternoon’s education questions.

Vorsprung Durch Technik

Shadow Skills Minister, Mohammad Asghar AM (Con, South Wales East) said the German dual training system – which places an equal weighting on teaching and workplace training for vocational qualifications – was highly-regarded and often reduced recruitment costs for businesses, who often fund up to 80% of the training costs. What did the Welsh Government make of this system?

The Minister for Lifelong Learning & Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales), said the Welsh Government has been looking at the German model for a while, but it was difficult to simply pick a model from elsewhere and apply it in Wales and the methods of delivery are often different.

On financing, the Minister wanted businesses to do more to train their own workforces:

“I think we’ve had, over the years, quite a lot of European funding, and many employers in Wales have come to depend on European funding to upskill their workers. I think we need to probably start to get them to understand that they also have to put their hand in their own pocket to upskill their own workers and that it’s in their interest to upskill their workers, that their productivity will increase, that their profitability will increase as a result.”
Minister for Lifelong Learning & Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan

She added that the apprenticeship system in England was “a mess and is collapsing” due to how the apprenticeships levy is being applied, with only larger companies being given the resources to offer apprenticeships.

Undelivered pledges?

Sian Gwenllian AM (Plaid, Arfon) said budget agreements between Labour and Plaid Cymru made a commitment to the establishment of an arms-length agency to promote and plan for the Welsh language. It’s yet to be delivered. Why?

The Minister said the Welsh Government had hoped the Welsh Language Commissioner would be doing more promotional work, but the proposed (and controversial) new Welsh Language Commission would have promotion responsibilities.

Sian then turned to the Labour leadership contest:

“….in your manifesto for your hopes of becoming First Minister, I understand there’s no mention of….the main policy that you’ve been responsible for promoting – namely the target of creating a million Welsh speakers by 2050, or any talk about the Welsh Language Bill.”
– Sian Gwenllian AM

The Minister didn’t think it was appropriate to comment on a personal manifesto but still hoped a Welsh Language Bill will be forthcoming and she hoped it will be passed before the next Welsh General Election in 2021.

Oh, my sweet summer child

Joyce Watson AM (Lab, Mid & West Wales) asked about Welsh Government admissions guidance for summer-born children – something that’s recently been in the news, with parents of summer-born children asking for more flexibility.

Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), said local authorities should consider requests for a delayed start to school on a case-by-case basis. This led to a number of summer-born* AM declaring their birthdays.

“Cabinet Secretary, I was born on 28 August….I think I was often 18 months behind many of the people that were in the same year as me. It caused reading and writing difficulties when I was in primary school, and it wasn’t until the very end of secondary school that I started to achieve close to my intellectual potential.”
– David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central)

The Education Secretary said that the Welsh Government are eager to listen to the views of parents who have concerns and the admissions code could be amended in the future – depending on the evidence, which is still being gathered as part of a general review of the code.

* I’m also summer-born (August 11th). While it never affected me academically there were problems in terms of social and physical development which would’ve made starting school a year or two later a better option which was unavailable at the time.

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