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Graham: Maintaining the highest standards in schools across Wales

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I acknowledge the report as being thorough and comprehensive. I also acknowledge that the new inspection arrangements incorporate a common structure for inspecting the education and training of learners of all ages.

The report highlights many continuing improvements across all levels of education throughout Wales, and I wholly endorse the Minister's rightful praise of the profession. It also highlights many of the continuing issues that face our schools and colleges.

The motion that we consider today links this report with 'The Learning Country', which is described by the Labour Assembly Government as a distinctive agenda for Wales. However, the chief inspector's report clearly indicates that this agenda is not working properly. The Government has set out its target aspirations, but, as is the case with so many of its targets, including its manifesto promises, they are incapable of fruition.

All aspects of education in Wales face many problems, which range from declining pupil numbers to the fact that unprecedented numbers of teachers in Welsh schools are approaching their retirement while trying to adapt to meet the wider requirements expected of teachers and schools.

The amendments tabled by the Welsh Conservative group highlight the urgent issues that we need to face to ensure, as the chief inspector says, that education and training fulfil a vital role in making a difference to the lives and future of individuals and communities in Wales.

As is the case with every problem that the Government faces, it hides behind the fact that it is spending more on the services that it provides. It appears to be blinded by the size of the pound sign and blind to growing inefficiencies.

Education funding is confined within the straitjacket of historical spending patterns. Its progress is restricted by the fact that schools are compared with other local schools rather than with the best schools. Let us be bold in Wales and aim for the best.

The report outlines progress but highlights that almost every step forward is accompanied by a step backwards. I will give a few examples. The report states that national curriculum assessment results at key stage 3 remained static in mathematics and had declined in science. It also states:

'Pupils' examination results at GCSE in key stage 4 improved only slightly since last year and it does not look as though pupils will be able to achieve any of the Welsh Assembly Government's ambitious targets by 2007.'

It is noted in the report that, for secondary school pupils, key skills had not changed since last year, and that information and communication technology skills had not improved and remained weak in almost half of the secondary schools inspected.

The chief inspector states that secondary schools still have a long way to go to meet the Government's target of reducing absenteeism to below 7 per cent by 2007, and that 80 per cent of secondary schools have failed to improve their pupils' attendance in recent years. She goes on to say:

'Work-based learning continues to be a cause of great concern. This is a serious issue given that many areas of Wales have difficulties in providing services for the health and care of young people, elderly people and vulnerable members of their communities.'

If we seek an education system that allows our children to achieve their highest potential by attaining academic and vocational qualifications, and provides the widest opportunities for lifelong learning within a safe environment, we need to address some fundamental issues.

The report notes that 10 per cent of all primary schools have shortcomings in terms of their arrangements for child protection because staff are not adequately trained in child-protection issues, or teachers are not clear about the procedures of their school or local authority. This issue requires all-party support for it to be immediately resolved.

The report also outlines how economic prosperity in Wales depends on people from all backgrounds being able to take part fully in employment and to contribute to building a better society.

We must reduce the number of children leaving school with inadequate literacy, numeracy and social interaction skills. Seven per cent of young people in Wales leave school with no more than one GCSE qualification at grade C or its equivalent. This is compared with only 2.6 per cent in England.

There is a requirement to redirect funding towards reducing the number of children who are not in education, training or employment. Despite an increase of 52 per cent in spending on education in Wales, standards sadly remain the worst in the United Kingdom.

It is an amazing fact that, in Wales today, 28 per cent of adults struggle with reading and 32 per cent find basic mathematics difficult. We need to balance this against the comments made about work-based learning and the care of young people.

It was in work-based learning provision that inspectors observed that 30 per cent of learners were absent from the lessons being assessed. There is a lack of an effective strategy to help learners maintain their attendance. It is pointless for the Assembly Government to set targets if providers lack effective strategy guidance to deliver these targets.

When the Minister read the comments concerning accommodation in secondary schools not being outstanding, did she recall the days of previous Labour Governments, which, as the First Minister described in Plenary yesterday, commissioned the construction of trash-built schools in the 1960s?

There are major education issues relating to the youth justice system where the report identifies a lack of progress, especially with regard to young offenders who broke the law but were not taken into custody and who still do not attend full-time education or training.

Consequently, they are unable to gain a recognised qualification that might help them to find employment, increasing the likelihood that they will reoffend. Of those in prison in Wales, 6 out of 10 are virtually illiterate and innumerate.

The Minister will try to convince people to leave it to her and that everything is all right. However, on closer scrutiny, the inspector reported that all is not as the Minister wishes us to believe. I ask that the Minister looks again at the way in which we improve the quality of education in Wales."

"Cydnabyddaf fod yr adroddiad yn drylwyr ac yn gynhwysfawr. Cydnabyddaf hefyd fod y trefniadau arolygu newydd yn cynnwys strwythur cyffredin ar gyfer arolygu addysg a hyfforddiant dysgwyr o bob oedran. Mae'r adroddiad yn amlygu llawer o welliannau parhaus ar draws pob lefel o addysg ledled Cymru, a chymeradwyaf yn llwyr y ffaith bod y Gweinidog yn canmol y proffesiwn, sy'n gwbl gywir.

Mae hefyd yn amlygu llawer o'r materion parhaus y mae ein hysgolion a'n colegau yn eu hwynebu. Mae'r cynnig a ystyriwn heddiw yn cysylltu'r adroddiad hwn â 'Y Wlad sy'n Dysgu', a ddisgrifir gan Lywodraeth Lafur y Cynulliad yn agenda unigryw ar gyfer Cymru. Fodd bynnag, mae adroddiad y prif arolygydd yn nodi'n glir nad yw'r agenda hon yn gweithio'n iawn.

Mae'r Llywodraeth wedi nodi ei dyheadau o ran targedau, ond, fel sy'n wir gyda chymaint o'i thargedau, gan gynnwys yr addewidion yn ei maniffesto, ni allant gael eu gwireddu.

Mae pob agwedd ar addysg yng Nghymru yn wynebu llawer o broblemau, sy'n amrywio o niferoedd disgyblion sy'n lleihau i'r ffaith bod niferoedd digyffelyb o athrawon mewn ysgolion yng Nghymru yn agosáu at ymddeol tra'n ceisio ymaddasu i fodloni'r gofynion ehangach a ddisgwylir gan athrawon ac ysgolion.

Mae'r gwelliannau a gyflwynwyd gan grwp Ceidwadwyr Cymru yn amlygu'r materion brys y mae angen inni eu hwynebu er mwyn sicrhau, fel y dywed y prif arolygydd, bod addysg a hyfforddiant yn cyflawni rôl allweddol wrth wneud gwahaniaeth i fywydau a dyfodol unigolion a chymunedau yng Nghymru.

Fel sy'n wir gyda phob problem a wyneba'r Llywodraeth, mae'n cuddio y tu ôl i'r ffaith ei bod yn gwario mwy ar y gwasanaethau a ddarpara. Ymddengys ei bod wedi'i dallu â'r arian dan sylw ac nad yw'n gweld yr aneffeithlonrwydd cynyddol.

Mae'r arian a roddir i addysg wedi'i gyfyngu gan batrymau gwario hanesyddol. Cyfyngir ar ei chynnydd oherwydd y ffaith y caiff ysgolion eu cymharu ag ysgolion lleol eraill yn hytrach nag â'r ysgolion gorau. Gadewch inni fod yn eofn yng Nghymru ac anelu at y gorau.

Mae'r adroddiad yn amlinellu cynnydd ond mae'n amlygu hefyd bron bob tro y cymerir cam ymlaen y cymerir cam yn ôl hefyd. Rhoddaf rai enghreifftiau. Noda'r adroddiad nad yw canlyniadau asesiadau'r cwricwlwm cenedlaethol yng nghyfnod allweddol 3 wedi newid mewn mathemateg a'u bod wedi gostwng mewn gwyddoniaeth. Noda hefyd:

'Dim ond ychydig y mae canlyniadau arholiadau disgyblion wedi gwella mewn TGAU yng nghyfnod allweddol 4 ers y llynedd, ac nid yw'n debyg y bydd disgyblion yn gallu cyflawni unrhyw un o dargedau uchelgeisiol Llywodraeth Cynulliad Cymru erbyn 2007.'

Nodir yn yr adroddiad, ar gyfer disgyblion ysgolion uwchradd, nad oedd sgiliau allweddol wedi newid ers y llynedd, ac nad oedd sgiliau technoleg gwybodaeth a chyfathrebu wedi gwella a'u bod yn parhau i fod yn wael ymron hanner yr ysgolion uwchradd a arolygwyd.

Noda'r prif arolygydd fod gan ysgolion uwchradd lawer i'w wneud eto i gyrraedd targed y Llywodraeth o leihau absenoldebau i lai na 7 y cant erbyn 2007, a bod 80 y cant o ysgolion uwchradd wedi methu â gwella presenoldeb eu disgyblion yn ystod y blynyddoedd diwethaf. Â ymlaen i ddweud:

'Mae dysgu yn y gweithle'n parhau i fod yn destun pryder mawr. Mae hwn yn fater difrifol o gofio bod llawer o ardaloedd yng Nghymru'n cael anawsterau o ran darparu gwasanaethau ar gyfer iechyd a gofal pobl ifanc, pobl oedrannus ac aelodau bregus o'r gymdeithas.'

Os ceisiwn gael system addysg sy'n galluogi ein plant i gyflawni eu potensial gorau drwy gyrraedd cymwysterau academaidd a galwedigaethol, ac sy'n rhoi'r cyfleoedd ehangaf ar gyfer dysgu gydol oes o fewn amgylchedd diogel, mae angen inni ymdrin â rhai materion sylfaenol.

Noda'r adroddiad fod gan 10 y cant o ysgolion cynradd ddiffygion o ran eu trefniadau amddiffyn plant gan nad yw staff wedi'u hyfforddi'n ddigonol ym maes amddiffyn plant, neu am nad yw athrawon yn deall gweithdrefnau eu hysgol neu'r awdurdod lleol. Mae angen cefnogaeth pob plaid o ran y broblem hon er mwyn sicrhau y caiff ei datrys ar unwaith.

Mae'r adroddiad hefyd yn amlinellu sut y mae ffyniant economaidd yng Nghymru yn dibynnu ar bobl o bob cefndir yn gallu chwarae rhan lawn mewn cyflogaeth a chyfrannu at ddatblygu cymdeithas well.

Rhaid inni leihau nifer y plant sy'n gadael yr ysgol gyda sgiliau llythrennedd, rhifedd a rhyngweithio cymdeithasol annigonol. Mae saith y cant o bobl ifanc yng Nghymru yn gadael yr ysgol heb ddim mwy nag un cymhwyster TGAU ar radd C neu gymhwyster cyfatebol. Mae hynny o gymharu â dim ond 2.6 y cant yn Lloegr.

Mae gofyniad i ailgyfeirio cyllid tuag at leihau nifer y plant nad ydynt mewn addysg, hyfforddiant neu gyflogaeth. Er gwaethaf cynnydd o 52 y cant mewn gwariant ar addysg yng Nghymru, ein safonau, yn anffodus, yw'r gwaethaf yn y Deyrnas Unedig o hyd.

Mae'r ffaith bod 28 y cant o oedolion yn cael anawsterau wrth ddarllen a bod 32 y cant yn cael anawsterau wrth wneud mathemateg sylfaenol yng Nghymru heddiw yn ffaith anhygoel. Mae angen inni gydbwyso hyn yn erbyn y sylwadau a wnaed am ddysgu seiliedig ar waith a gofalu am bobl ifanc.

Mewn lleoliad dysgu seiliedig ar waith yr arsylwodd arolygwyr fod 30 y cant o'r dysgwyr yn absennol o'r gwersi a oedd yn cael eu hasesu. Mae diffyg strategaeth effeithiol i helpu dysgwyr i gynnal eu lefelau presenoldeb. Nid oes diben i Lywodraeth y Cynulliad bennu targedau os nad oes gan ddarparwyr ganllawiau strategaeth effeithiol ar gyfer cyflawni'r targedau hyn.

Pan ddarllenodd y Gweinidog y sylwadau sy'n datgan nad yw adeiladau ac ystafelloedd mewn ysgolion uwchradd o safon eithriadol, a fu iddi gofio diwrnodau Llywodraethau Llafur blaenorol a gomisiynodd, fel y disgrifiodd y Prif Weinidog yn y Cyfarfod Llawn ddoe, waith i adeiladu ysgolion o safon isel yn y 1960au?

Ceir materion addysgol pwysig mewn perthynas â'r system cyfiawnder ieuenctid lle mae'r adroddiad yn nodi diffyg cynnydd, yn arbennig o ran troseddwyr ifanc a dorrodd y gyfraith ond na aed â hwy i'r ddalfa ac nad ydynt o hyd yn mynychu addysg neu hyfforddiant llawn amser.

O ganlyniad, ni allant ennill cymhwyster cydnabyddedig a allai eu helpu i ddod o hyd i gyflogaeth, gan gynyddu'r tebygolrwydd y byddant yn aildroseddu. O'r rheini sydd yn y carchar yng Nghymru, mae 6 allan o 10 fwy neu lai yn anllythrennog ac yn anrhifog.

Bydd y Gweinidog yn ceisio darbwyllo pobl i adael llonydd iddi fwrw ati a bod popeth yn iawn. Fodd bynnag, o graffu'n agosach, noda'r arolygydd nad yw'r sefyllfa yn cyfateb â'r sefyllfa honno a ddisgrifir gan y Gweinidog.

Gofynnaf i'r Gweinidog ailystyried y ffordd y gallwn wella ansawdd addysg yng Nghymru."

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