Being a mother of two boys, I am acutely aware of how important it is to get education right, so that every child, in every part of Wales, has the very best education, they deserve.

A good education is one of the greatest things you can gift a child. It is a present that can be used and cherished by anyone, regardless of their background. This rings true for families up and down Wales who see their children’s future being shaped by the Labour Welsh Government.

This once bright future hangs in the balance. Education in Wales is at a crossroads and can only go one of two ways. It can either flourish by putting high academic standards and ensure high quality subject content at the heart of our curriculum, or it can falter on its current path.

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In recent years, it has become glaringly apparent that Ministers are letting down children across Wales, with a myriad of issues. From confusing covid schools guidance, to inadequate funding to support our children’s education, and support for teachers to do what they do best – teaching our children.

The state of education in Wales is currently in a perilous way. We’ve seen head teachers voicing their concern over funding with 79 per cent, saying Labour’s cuts will have a negative or strongly negative effect on the quality of their school provision.

That’s not the worst of it though. At the moment, for every £1 spent on education in England, Wales receives £1.20. Therefore, students in Wales should have at least £1,000 more per pupil compared to England. Yet, according to the latest figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, schools in Wales actually receive £100 less per pupil than in England. It’s a national scandal and outrage.

Sadly, in Wales, it’s not just a lack of funding holding back our children. Between 2011 and 2021 the numbers of teachers has dropped by more than 10 per cent - seeing more than 3,000 teachers leave the profession. Just imagine what those 3,000 teachers could have done to stop the attainment gap between Wales' richest and poorest children getting top GCSE grades doubling in the last two years.

The National Wales: Laura Anne Jones is a Senedd Member for South Wales East and the Shadow Minister for EducationLaura Anne Jones is a Senedd Member for South Wales East and the Shadow Minister for Education

According to the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) an analysis of attainment in 15-year-olds in over 80 countries, Welsh pupils have been way behind children in other parts of the UK and continue to be in vital subjects such as science and mathematics and reading.

The current outlook in Wales, to put it bleakly, is less money, fewer teachers, and more chaos with the introduction of the new curriculum.

This would spell cause for concern at the best of times but worryingly this comes after 18 months of serious educational disruptions for the next generation because of the pandemic. During that time, we’ve seen children in Wales losing the most amount of learning of any in the UK nations, missing out on 66 days of vital schooling.

This paints a stark picture for all parents who rightfully worry so dearly about their children’s education. The pandemic has exposed the existing inequalities that exist in Welsh education because of under-funding by the Welsh Government.

This doesn’t have to be our future. The nation of Roald Dahl, William Jones and Dylan Thomas doesn’t have to see it’s world-famous quality education slowly wilt away at the hands of Labour.

There is a way out of this current situation, it requires brave decision making and to actually listen to what teachers, parents, unions and students are saying and calling for.

We need investment to increase the levels of teaching staff; teachers’ pay and an increase in per-pupil funding to match or surpass that of the other UK nations, and lower teacher-to-pupil ratio to make sure that children and young people are getting the education they deserve to fulfil their potential.

We need to introduce a clear strategy with measurable targets, not hide behind the impact of the pandemic on the education sector which, although has had a significant impact, has shown the versatility and determination of our hard-working teachers and school staff.

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Unfortunately, Wales has been lagging far behind the rest of the UK in educational terms for decades now, and although the Education Minister expressed his happiness this week that Wales had met the average OECD level for Reading & Oracy, for me, this is far from ok. Former Soviet Bloc countries are on that same level. We should be way above that and at least in line with Scotland and England.

Having received a record-breaking increase of £2.5 billion pounds from the UK Conservative government for spending in Wales, I have called for greater investment into the Welsh education system.

It is only with direct and urgent action, and a significant funding increase directly into our schools, that we will get our education system back on track to provide the best opportunities for children and young people across Wales.

The Welsh Government will likely dismiss our advice, but it is actually the pleas of help from school leaders, parents and even their own unions.

We need to ensure teachers are properly supported for the introduction of the new curriculum to ensure a smooth transition, a real increase to per pupil funding and a proper drive to start finding the next generation of teachers here in Wales.

The managed decline of Welsh education can be reversed but only by doing things differently. It’s time for more action and less hot air from the Welsh Government if we’re to put Welsh education on rocket boosters and save the next generation of learners from mediocrity.

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