Commenting on new research published today which shows that Secondary schools are performing worse in Wales than England, Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
"The Welsh Liberal Democrats are fully committed to creating a fair education system that gives every child in Wales a fair start in order to reach their full potential, whatever their background.
“This report makes for worrying reading, finding that there has been a fall in educational standards in Wales of 1.92 GCSE grades per student per year. After decades of priding itself on the higher educational standards we promoted in Wales, we have slipped behind England. This must now be one of the most serious challenges facing the Welsh Government.
"The Labour-Plaid Government has consistently underfunded our schools. Education spending in Wales is over £500 lower per pupil than in England.“The poorest Welsh children are almost three times less likely to leave school with five good GCSEs than their richer classmates. And now, for the first time since devolution, there is a gap opening up as English GCSE and A Level students outperform their Welsh peers.
"League tables were abolished in 2001 for sound reasons with support from politicians, academics and teachers. We must always be careful to keep an open mind. If the government believes that league tables are not the reason for the worrying drop in standards, what is?
“Pupils in England will soon begin to benefit from the Pupil Premium that will target extra money at schools admitting disadvantaged pupils. Thousands of children in England will finally be getting the extra support they need to succeed. The challenge now is for the Welsh Government to provide similar support so that Welsh children are not further disadvantaged.”