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Friday, January 14, 2011

Alun Davies strikes again!

Wednesday's Welsh Liberal Democrat debate on the PISA report that showed wales going backwards in educational terms under Labour and Plaid Cymru, was at times heated and confrontational.

This was most evident in the contribution from Alun Davies, the Labour AM for Mid and West Wales, who blasted both the Welsh Liberal Democrats for doing their job as an opposition and staging the debate in the first place, but also the report itself which obviously hit home just a bit too inconveniently for him.

However, when Kirsty Williams took him to task for his speech he reacted with all the indignation of a scolded cat:

Kirsty Williams: In responding to the debate, I wish to begin by thanking colleagues from across the Chamber for their contributions this afternoon. I had thought when the PISA results were published at the end of last year that there was universal recognition of the seriousness of the PISA process and of the fact that we saw Welsh students performing more badly than they did in 2006. However, having heard Alun Davies describe the report today as a bad report, I was clearly mistaken—

Alun Davies: I did not say that—

Kirsty Williams: Check the record. That is exactly what you said, Alun Davies. That is exactly what you said. You said that it was a bad document

Alun Davies: Point of order. The leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats attempted to misquote me during her contribution, and then refused to take an intervention. Could I say to the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats—

The Deputy Presiding Officer: Order. You may make a point of order to me.

Alun Davies: If she wants to misquote me, she should allow an intervention. We should at least be allowed to set the record straight.

The Deputy Presiding Officer: I suggest that you check the Record of Proceedings and, if you are still not content, you may raise that point of order next week.

If Alun has checked the record he will see that Kirsty's hearing was perfectly good:

Alun Davies: First, we spend more money; secondly, we do not make the cuts that you have made, now that you have the opportunity, in Government. We will see what the people of Wales make of that in May. We did not make those cuts, but looked at how to maximise the benefit of our spend, and what do we get from the parties opposite? No support, but criticism—and criticism based on a poor reading of a bad document. That is what they have based their debate on this afternoon.

I await Alun's point of order next week with interest.
"... but looked at how to maximise the benefit of our spend..."

And with that spend Wales has gone BACKWARDS in educational terms.

There's no getting away from PISA - Wales has slipped down the league tables even on education.

There's no excuse for it - it's not a money issue, from memory NZ spends less per capita or pupil than Wales and achieved better results than Wales.
I disagree. Although there are clear issues with leadership in many schools and the quality of teaching, all of these take investment to put right. The spending gap has had an adverse impact on our educational performance, that is acknowledged in the PISA report which says that investment is a factor. It stands to reason that if you have underperforming pupils you need the resources to invest in improving their outcomes. Schools in Wales have not had that money because they are underfunded.
One aspect of the PISA results which seems to have bypassed Welsh politicians is their effect on the image of Wales in the wider world. The Economist which is read by many businessmen and opinion formers throughout the world ran an article which stated that the decline in the UK performance was due to'poor performance in Wales'. It's all very well for WAG advisers to write speeches containing phrases such as ' high technology, high skills and high wages' or cliches such as 'can do attitude' but who is going to invest in Wales when they read articles such as the one ran by the Economist.
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