Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, is in denial over her party’s failings in Wales according to the Welsh Conservatives.
Speaking to Good Morning Britain today, Ms Rayner claimed ‘education is improving’ in Wales despite facts pointing to the contrary.
In Wales, the Labour government has failed successive generations of young people. Under Labour rule for the last 18 years, Wales has:
- Slipped down international rankings for science, maths and reading and is the worst performing of the four countries of the UK*
- Seen fewer Welsh students going to elite universities**
- Seen the spend-per-pupil funding gap between England and Wales widen to £678 compared to just £31 in 2001***
- Failed to scrap tuition fees despite Labour promises in the general election
Responding to the comments, Welsh Conservative shadow secretary for education, Darren Millar AM, said:
“Angela Rayner’s astonishing comments demonstrate an incredible level of ignorance and denial over the Labour Party’s dismal record on education here in Wales.
“Under Labour, Wales has the worst education system in the UK, spending per pupil is £678 per year less than it is in England, fewer students are going to elite universities, and a third of teachers are thinking of leaving the profession.
“Successive generations have been let down by Labour in Wales and even the Labour First Minister acknowledged that his administration had taken its ‘eye off the ball’ when it comes to education.
“Instead of pontificating to the UK Government, Angela Rayner would do better to challenge her Labour colleagues in Wales. Her party cannot run away from its record and this latest gaffe shows you simply cannot trust a word Labour politicians say when it comes to education.”
Notes to editors:
* The latest PISA rankings show that Wales has slipped from 480 to 477 in reading (below OECD average), and 491 to 485 in science (below OECD average), and slightly increased its score in maths from 468 to 478 (but still below the OECD average) (OECD, PISA results 2012, 3 December 2013, link; OECD, PISA results 2015, 6 December 2013, link).
** The number of students from Wales studying at some of the UK's elite universities has dropped by almost 10% in three years, HESA figures have shown.
***Figures provided by NASUWT Cymru (21st October, link)
Transcript: Good Morning Britain 24th October
Angela Rayner: Well in Wales they've just announced that they won't be increasing tuition fees, they've kept maintenance grants. So education in Wales is improving. So Overall...[Interrupted]
Ranvir Singh: But you've been there for how many years now?
Angela Rayner: And over that period they are doing those things, they have created and they have provided free school meals.
Richard Madeley: But why isn't it better now.
Angela Rayner: It is improving Richard that's the point.
Richard Madeley: It is below the standards of the rest of the country.
Angela Rayner: Well it's below the standards of England but it's from the starting point that they were at but they are improving.
Richard Madeley: Ooh that's a bit slippery.
Angela Rayner: It's not slippery Richard, they are improving, it's not good enough, it's not where we'd like it to be but the Labour government in Wales have been making significant progress on that.
Richard Madeley: How long has Labour been in charge in Wales?
Angela Rayner: Well Labour have been in charge in Wales for a long time as you know.
Richard Madeley: How long, how long?
Angela Rayner: For a very long time, probably before my time Richard, before I was even born.
Richard Madeley: Do you not know how many years?
Angela Rayner: Well a long time yeah!
Richard Madeley: Ok I will take that as a no, and they are still behind, how much longer do you need to catch up?
Angela Rayner: Well education is improving in Wales, it is improving in Wales. We have created a situation in Wales where the poorer students do get the support that they require, the deprivation in some areas of Wales is significant and we have put that investment there instead unlike the Conservatives in England who wanted to bring back selection and have taken the money out of our school system, we have said we would invest it and we have done that, we have kept maintenance grants for the poorest students.