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An Extra £100m to Improve School Standards

This is the first in a series of blog posts expanding on the six key pledges Welsh Labour has made for the 2016 Assembly election.

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An Extra £100m to Improve School Standards

The rate of attainment of our poorest pupils is now rising faster than ever before and we firmly believe that we must continue this momentum. In the next Assembly term, Welsh Labour will invest an additional £100 million in front line education services to drive up standards in teaching and learning.

There will be a focus on gearing the curriculum towards preparing young people for the world of work and equipping them with skills to be successful in their future careers and lives.

The decision comes as a result of Prof Graham Donaldson’s review of the current National Curriculum (2015) in schools. This was called 'a compelling, exciting and ambitious vision' by the Education Minister, Huw Lewis. The review has been accepted by all political parties, and welcomed by teachers and teaching unions all over the country.

The Pupil Deprivation Grant has also been set up to help tackle the effects of poverty on educational attainment. The funding was given to schools to support improvement of attainment for learners that are eligible for Free School Meals and for Looked After Children aged 5-15. This is done through creating a range of activities that are available in schools in Cardiff Central. These include Nurture Groups, which support pupils with complex behavioural and emotional needs, additional teaching provision to help pupils with literacy and numeracy needs, access to technology such as iPads and the provision of free music tuition.

In 2007 the Welsh government introduced the Primary School Free Breakfast initiative throughout the country. In 5 years 73% of all primary schools in Wales enjoyed the benefits of a free breakfast every school day. Parents can continue to bring their child along, safe in the knowledge that they will have a nutritious meal to start their day; parents are also able to begin a working day earlier without the added worry of childcare.

Wales' best ever GCSE results were recorded in 2015, showing real progress in the school system. Welsh Labour demonstrated dedication to making further improvements to the education system though the launch of 'The New Deal for Education Workforce'. This will offer all teachers, support staff, leaders and Further Education (FE) lecturers in Wales an entitlement to access world class professional learning opportunities to develop their practice through their career. Welsh Government will work with stakeholders including the Education Workforce Council (EWC), Estyn, and Unions to undertake an extensive review of current policies and programmes that relate to Professional Learning.

Welsh Labour is also dedicated to supporting ongoing development after young people have left school. We are focused on delivering quality, higher level apprenticeships and parity between academic and vocational pathways. An additional £5m invested in apprenticeships is outlined in the 2016-17 budget. This is on top of £5m already agreed as part of last year's budget deal, and Welsh Labour is also pledging to create 100,000 new quality apprenticeships for all ages.

Welsh Labour has maintained funding support for students, with no top up fees needing to be paid. The Tories have already stated that they will take away this support for students if they are in power in Wales, and the Lib Dems have said they'll take it away. Only Labour is making the sensible choice and working with experts to make sure we can deliver a world-class education system that works for the future.

Don't let the Tories take away tuition fee support from our students, and don't let the Lib Dems help them!

Vote Labour on the 5th May.

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Jenny Rathbone | Assembly Member for Cardiff Central

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