Saturday, 12 May 2012

Assembly Scrutiny.

The Assembly's Children and Young People Committee are to be congratulated on their comprehensive report into the implementation of the Learning and Skills (Wales) Measure 2009. The aim of this piece of legislation was to :
ensure that all 14-19 learners have a Learning Pathway framework which aims to help them achieve their potential. Learning Pathways are the learning experiences of each individual learner and involve developing an entitlement for each learner. Learning Pathways include a balance of formal learning, wider choice, flexibility and a Learning Core 14-19, together with a blend of support to meet learners‟ needs.
The Committee found that the Measure had extended the choice of courses available for students but also found that there were a number of difficulties in providing 30 courses including 5 vocational courses especially in rural schools with sixth forms who had to collaborate and that a lot of time was spent travelling between venues which was neither popular amongst students or providers. By providing so many courses the attendance at some was so small as to question their viability. There was also a question mark over Welsh courses and the distance between Welsh Schools and also the ability to provide such an extensive curriculum.

This Measure has provided many challenges in Wrecsam, as in other authorities, with six forms at both Penley and Rhiwabon under threat by the need to offer more choice and collaboration as well as additional cost and structural difficulties of transporting students between 3 different venues within the county

In view of the threat to good performing schools with Sixth Forms, the first recommendation of the committee report is particularly welcoming:
The Minister for Education and Skills should review the decision to set 30 courses (including five vocational courses) as the minimum number of courses of study necessary to form a local curriculum at Key Stage 4. As part of his review, the Minister should evaluate any unintended consequences of the wider choice of courses; the balance between academic and vocational courses and the impact on smaller and rural schools.
I very much hope the Minister takes on board the recommendations of the Committee and reduce the choice of courses available to ensure viability of providers.

Increased choice does not ensure quality provision or better standards; should we not seek to teach less courses but to teach them better?

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