A sound and well balanced education system is critical to any nation, I think a lot of people would agree on that.
Education of our population is tantamount to the footings of a building as it’s the base on which the rest of society is built upon.
Wales’ education system has sadly however, been in steady decline for the last twenty years and shows no real signs of improving.
A consequence of continuing to utilise our nearest neighbours’ viewpoint as our own within our system means we are neglecting our culture, heritage, customs and status.
The current system is robbing future generations of an identity that they can call their own.
The Draft Curriculum 2022
Kirsty Williams AM, Education Minister since May 2016, has released a “draft Curriculum for Wales 2022.”
My co-editor Gwilym ab Ioan has written an article on the education system in Wales, which you can find here.
Wales has always been a nation of doers rather than thinkers, yet this recent curriculum change goes completely against our natural inclination.
We are criminally short of skilled people because of an over reliance on academic success within our education system. This needs to change, or we’ll end up with too many thinkers and not enough doers.
Lack of Ambition
Where’s the ambition and vision to bring sports back into schools, or technical or vocational skills-based learning, where young people are working with their hands and their brains.
Our national sport, Rugby, is struggling at grass roots level, to help with this rugby could brought back into schools which would increase levels of participation for both boys and girls.
What about the other sports in Wales like football, hockey, netball, athletics, gymnastics! None of these were mentioned in the curriculum, that says to me that there’s a complete disconnect from what Wales needs.
We need to bring sports back into schools and get our children active as it’s widely reported that our kids are getting fatter and inactive.
How about general life skills, like opening a bank account or learning how mortgages work, paying bills, how to do simple household repairs?
We need to move away from this over reliance on academic success so we can develop the natural abilities of our young people.
The status of vocational learning is often seen as inferior and lacking in comparison to academic learning.
This means most of young people in Wales are immediately disadvantaged and generally overlooked altogether when it comes to job opportunities.
What our youngsters need is a simple curriculum where each student is empowered and encouraged to become the best they can be, at whatever they’re naturally good at.
Where the students of tomorrow learn is also vitally important. There are numerous studies and evidence that says children learn better in smaller class sizes.
Class sizes have been a thorn in the side of Wales’ education system for decades. One way to finally put this issue to bed would be to stop the centralisation of schools.
Small and Local
There have been many instances in Wales where smaller, good local schools have been closed only to be replaced by newer, bigger schools which have been built further away from students’ homes and where standards have dropped.
I’m a firm believer that “keeping it local” will always win over centralisation. keeping it local means schools can adapt better to changing circumstances at a local level.
They can be funded more efficiently and effectively and where local needs are the priority. Class sizes can be kept low which means individual needs are better catered for.
I’m not convinced the argument used by politicians down the bay that these smaller, rural schools, are too expensive to keep open.
I think the process to eliminate smaller schools has been instigated at UK level so that Wales doesn’t diverge too far from the English model for education.
A process Welsh Labour, the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru have been complicit in its application across Wales.
Where Ein Gwlad Comes In
Ein Gwlad has recently launched its manifesto whereby it states that we would overhaul our education system so that it is administered, funded and applied at local level.
This would put an end to the devastating centralisation of Welsh schools.
A new National Curriculum under an Ein Gwlad government would prioritise Welsh culture, heritage, traditions, values and language to reintegrate what has been lost over the last one hundred and fifty years.
We would look to best practices such as those found in Finland and the Netherlands, as alternative ways to educate our nation.
And we would also look to remove the stigma of vocational and technical learning by empowering those who are best suited to it and equally empowering those with academic abilities.
One thing’s for sure, Wales will continue to fall behind if we stay on the same path. Tinkering with the curriculum as Kirsty Williams is doing, where we continue to develop the group think mentality, will only create more disadvantaged, disenfranchised and lost generations.
Vote Gwlad Gwlad (Ein Gwlad) in 2021 if you want to give our young people the best chance at getting a decent education where no one will be left behind.
My name is Lee Felton, I’m one of the editors on Ein GWALD’s News Portal, National Secretary and Graphics Officer. I have a Valley’s working class background and I’m not afraid to say what I think. If i’m wrong, I’m wrong, and I’ll be the first to put my hand up.