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Minister outlines steps to Welsh education reform

27/12/2013 Joanna
Welsh education minister Huw Lewis has said that a radical reorganisation of school services in Wales is unlikely before the term of this assembly is over.

The minister predicted it would be several years before significant structural change occurs, Wales Online reports.

His comments follow a report by former UK government advisor Robert Hill, which recommends the transfer of some education functions to Wales's regional consortia.

Eighty of Mr Hill's 85 recommendations have been accepted by Mr Lewis, including a standardised tracking systems for pupils in years two to nine. 

However, the education minister stressed that education reform is a gradual process. He divided the process into changes that can be implemented now and others that will be addressed further down the line. 

Significant reform would have to wait until the results of the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery, led by former NHS Wales chief executive Sir Paul Williams.

 "We've got very clear regional structures now and, whatever Williams recommends, it will be several years yet before there is a situation where we need to reorganise things again," Mr Lewis commented.

He also pledged support for the controversial banding system currently operating in Wales, which sees secondary schools divided into different bands according to their performance. A range of key indicators are used to classify schools - but this is a controversial method, according to many in teacher jobs.

Extra funding is provided to institutions in lower bands in a drive to raise standards.

Mr Lewis appeared uncertain as to whether the banding scheme would be introduced in primary schools in September 2014, however.

The minister also pledged to address the link between poverty and low attainment, claiming that the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) was a key means of tackling the issue. Extra funding of £35 million has been secured for the grant as a result of pressure from Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.

He recognised that additional money is not the sole remedy for the problem, however, claiming that the system needs to be changed to ensure the long-term needs of every student are catered for.

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