‘Leave the Champagne on the shelf’: Shadow Education Minister’s scathing response to PISA results

Suzy Davies AM today (December 11), led a passionate debate in the Welsh Parliament today (December 11) on the PISA results published last week.

Mrs Davies, who is Shadow Education Minister, told the Members present that the results,despite being recorded as “modest improvements since 2015”,  are no cause for celebration.

Mrs Davies said:

“Yes, modest improvements since 2015 have been recorded, but this is only because the 2015 figures were some of the direst ever for Wales.”

Recognising that they are working in an environment of great change, she congratulated teachers for a three-point improvement in Science since 2015.

“But in the context of an overall a 17-point drop since 2006, and with just are a two-point increase in reading and a four-point increase in maths since 2006, which OECD described as ‘not significant’, does Welsh Government really expect us to “welcome” that?”

She said that the PISA results do indicate better performance from Wales’ top achievers, which brings us closer to a depressed OECD average, but added that Wales’ most disadvantaged children are still attaining lower scores in reading than similar children in the other UK nations.

“That gap widens until, for our least deprived pupils, their reading score is 20 behind the OECD average, and 40 points behind their peers in England.

“There is another attainment gap here, a whopping one, Minister and it cannot be ignored. You can’t claim improvement just because those around you are getting worse.”

Mrs Davies said that “… something has to change”.

“Welsh Conservatives believe that teachers should be free to teach, unencumbered other than by a robust, credible and relevant framework of excellent governance and accountability.

“The next PISA results will be for scrutiny by the next Welsh Parliament.  That target of 500 across the board seems as distant as it would have looked in 2006.

“My observation is that you hope that these modest improvements disguise declines in the knowledge and skills identified in the PISA tests in the last 12 years, years when we have been governed by the Labour party.  If our science scores weren’t enough to leave the Champagne bottle on the shelf, the fact that Wales’s reading and maths scores are just back where they started 12 years ago is no reason to be popping corks.

“We should be soaring ahead in this - and the next - decade, not still behind the other UK nations.”