Teaching makes a difference: One year on

Leighton Andrews, Learning from the Best, All Nations Centre, Cardiff, 8 March 2012

When I started out as Minister for Education, just over two years ago, I had a clear view of the job description.

That is why we expect to see continuous professional development (CPD) focussed on these issues. That’s why we expect INSET days to address these issues in particular.
Our School Standards Unit has undertaken stock-takes with all local authorities, identifying what they need to do to support schools improve their performance.

My vision was to:

  • raise standards and create excellence, and
  • widen opportunities and spread equality of outcomes.

So my job was to provide resources to the front line to allow this to happen.

That’s why I immediately established the review of the cost of administering the education system, which showed that a 2 per cent shift of resources would generate an additional £83 million for the front-line.

That’s why we implemented immediately the First Minister’s commitment to raise schools budgets by 1 per cent above the amount we receive from the UK government – a commitment confirmed in our manifesto at the May election.

That’s why we extracted a promise from the WLGA that local authorities would raise the amount of their budgets delegated to schools from around 75 per cent to 80 per cent by September 2012 and 85 per cent by September 2014.

That’s why local authorities are coming together in regional consortia to identify savings in areas such as the school improvement services which can be moved directly to the front-line and provide a more modern service.

And now we have the additional resource of the pupil deprivation grant which means even more money going to the front-line.

I said that I wanted my department to focus on better implementation, on fewer initiatives, and to keep it simple.

Where we have kept to the mantra, we have done things effectively. Where we have moved away from that, we have sometimes made mistakes.

In my twenty-point plan, I said we would not create new initiatives which did not contribute to the goal of driving up standards.

However, we have not always followed through on that.

Let’s be clear. We made a mistake with the Child Development Assessment Profile for the Foundation Phase (CDAP).

We asked the profile to deliver too many things. It probably happened too early in the term. It didn’t track effectively to the key outcomes we want to measure. As Professor Iram Siraj-Blatchford has said to me, we probably need a simpler on-entry assessment and a clearer tracking system throughout the Early Years linked to the key outcomes of the Foundation Phase.

But let’s not pretend for one minute that all was wrong with the CDAP. Only a fortnight ago, I met a headteacher in North-East Wales who is continuing to use it because it provides her and her teachers with a framework for assessing child development, when there was nothing as valuable before.

I have asked my department to learn the lessons of this experience.

To build the Learning Country, we must have a government that is prepared to learn as well.

And to listen.

I have a reputation for speaking bluntly. But I welcome people speaking bluntly back to me. The great Welsh Labour leader Aneurin Bevan used to say ‘This is my truth. Now tell me yours’.

Finding resources for the front-line was the first challenge. But let’s not forget why we want those resources – to raise standards and widen opportunities.

It was inevitable that the last year should see a focus on new systems of accountability, given the introduction of Estyn’s new Common Inspection Framework, the report of the Structure of Education Task and Finish group and the PISA results.

In Wales, we believe in the comprehensive principle. We are opposed to academies, to so-called free schools and to selection. We have legislated to prevent the creation of more foundation schools.

But if we believe in the comprehensive principle then we have to ensure it delivers for all our young people.

We set out our plans for grading of schools in our manifesto and implemented the banding of secondary schools as a result. I will talk about some of the outcomes of that in a moment.

As you know, I have decided to postpone the introduction of primary school banding. Primary school banding will go ahead from September 2014, in line with our manifesto commitment.

The Canadian educationalist Michael Fullan warns politicians about the dangers of what he calls distractors and I call distractions. And I have no doubt that to introduce primary banding before we had in place the reading tests and numeracy tests would have led to one of those great distractions.

What matters most to me is that we elevate standards of literacy and numeracy during primary school so that all have a level playing field when they start their secondary education.

It is not acceptable that too many pupils are leaving primary schools with low levels of literacy.

It is not acceptable that Estyn indicates that some 40 per cent of learners may have reading ages six months below their chronological age.

The reading and numeracy tests will give us some consistent measures for all primary schools.

Let me be clear. We will not bring back SATS. But when we agreed back in 2004 to end SATS we agreed also to put in place more effective ways to moderate teacher assessment. Estyn’s reports repeatedly tell us that that has not happened. Look at what the Chief Inspector has had to say on literacy assessment this year. And when I talk to secondary heads, they often tell me that they are clear which of their feeder primary schools are getting assessment right and which are not.

So introducing primary banding now would simply have led to a series of arguments about data and its reliability, when what matters is getting literacy and numeracy right.

The banding system in secondary schools has already been valuable. It has helped us identify which schools need support, and enabled the consortia to differentiate the support available for schools in specific circumstances.

The consortia have action plans in place for all schools in Bands 4 and 5. These action plans include a practical focus on steps towards improvement.

However, I have listened to the concerns of the profession regarding the additional support that may be required to deliver on these plans.

Today, therefore, I am announcing that it is my intention to increase the amount of money available to Bands 4 and 5 schools to £10,000 per school.

Schools will need to submit to their consortia action plans with improvement targets. This together with the pupil deprivation grant should support them to address underachievement.

In return, schools must agree to share their best practice. Consortia will be expected to facilitate this. This means an additional £550,000 to support schools on their improvement journey. This takes the total allocation of additional funding for 2012-13 to three quarter of a million pounds – ten thousand pounds for each of the 75 secondary schools in Bands 4 and 5.

As we have always said – Banding is not a return to League Tables. League Tables are about judging schools; Banding will always be about supporting the schools that need it most.

Like most people in education, I am in this job for a reason. I want all our young people to have a chance of reaching their potential, and it is my job to remove obstacles to their progress and provide them with the support they need to move ahead.

My philosophy is simple. A child in Clydach Vale should have the same opportunity to achieve as a child in Cowbridge. We have to have high ambitions for all our children. That is their right.

To deliver this, we have to intervene as a government to address imbalances of wealth and power.

And as a government committed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is our job to deliver.

We put the rights of the child first.

When Wales on Sunday splashed two weeks ago on what it called ‘shocking revelations’ that ‘children in Wales are starting primary school without basic skills like toilet training and the ability to speak’, it came as no surprise to me. Primary teachers have been telling me that ever since I became an Assembly Member. Sadly, we are dealing with the consequences of the children and grandchildren of Thatcherism, where the doctrine that ‘there’s no such thing as society’ and the tolerance of long-term unemployment and economic inactivity led to an undermining of basic social and community values, with for some a consequential loss of dignity, self-esteem, time-discipline and a culture of respect for others, and the desertion in some places of core family values learned over generations in place of ‘anything goes’ and rights without responsibilities.

As a government we support the rights of the child. And children have a right to proper parenting. Most parents provide that. And of course, we want parents to play their part in their child’s learning.

But sadly there are some parents who do not take their responsibilities seriously. Who do not talk with their children. Who do not ensure their children have the dignity of toilet-training. Who do not understand the need to set boundaries.

But if the parental home is not providing the necessary learning environment; if children are not getting the stimulation they require; if they are not getting the right parental engagement in their development – from talking to toilet-training – then the government must give those children their second chance, and the support they are not getting at home. And teachers, teaching assistants and other staff are at the front line of delivery on this.

We know from the Effective Provision of Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) studies by Edward Melhuish, Pam Ammons, Iram Siraj-Blatchford and others that disadvantaged children who succeeded against the odds were helped by their parents; they were encouraged and nurtured in pre-school; they had a positive self-image; they had good quality teaching in primary school; they had support from school if there were problems; and they had support from their peers.

That is why we made our extra investment in Early Years, supporting young children and families through Flying Start, doubling the reach of the programme.

And we know the successes of Flying Start. Families in our most disadvantaged areas are getting support from Flying Start and are seeing the difference it makes. The feedback is positive; parents are telling us about the benefits of the programme:

  • their confidence as a parent has increased
  • they feel better able to make decisions about how to look after their baby and have a better understanding of their child’s general development
  • there have been positive changes in their child’s behaviour since attending Flying Start parenting courses and
  • importantly, many parents of them are now engaged in home learning activities with their children.

Flying Start is starting to have a real, positive impact on these children – when they go to school they are ready to learn, better behaved and more confident at mixing with other children.

It is why we have invested so heavily in the Foundation Phase.

And we need to be clear about what the Foundation Phase is for. It is not the outdoor spaces that matter. It is not the number of support staff – which we have increased by 5,600 – that matter. It is the quality of the interaction between the children and the adults – with practitioners using their professionalism to lead young people through a stimulating approach to learning, enabling them to get those key skills of early language development and literacy and numeracy. That is what matters. The Foundation Phase does not mean anything goes.

Recent Estyn reports published in September 2011 found that ‘the majority of primary schools in Wales provide a varied, productive and motivating environment for children to thrive and develop their skills in reading and writing’.

Estyn found that active learning approaches – letting children ‘have a go’ themselves through play based activities – help children become increasingly independent, confident and creative.  Children persevere with activities for longer and attempt new things more readily. Boys, in particular, benefit from the approach.

Estyn’s 2010–11 Annual Report stated that the Foundation Phase has resulted in improvements in:

  • well-being
  • behaviour
  • physical development.

Children have made good progress in developing:

  • speaking, listening and reading skills
  • mathematical skills
  • thinking skills and
  • Welsh second language skills.

I made it clear when I started that I wanted to see an end to jargon. What we say and do must be clear and easy for everyone in the profession – and every member of the public – to understand. As I said in my first Western Mail article as Education Minister two years ago:

I want to see fewer strategies – and I want to reduce the burden of paperwork as well. The strategy and consultation development industry doesn’t need any more government subsidies. I don’t need more glossy documents landing with a thud on my desk. Nor does anyone else in education.

That’s why I gave the School Effectiveness Framework a clear focus on:

  • literacy
  • numeracy
  • breaking the link between poverty and poor educational outcomes.

Those are our priorities.

That is our focus.

It is also why we need local government in Wales to fulfil their promises in delivering on this agenda.

I am pleased to see some progress with the regional consortia, but I need to be convinced that the changes being made are real, lasting and capable of delivering improved standards across Wales.

As I have said before I would not have invented 22 local education authorities and I believe that the fragmentation of education following local government reform was damaging to our education system. The capacity simply wasn’t there.

Estyn has now inspected about half of our local authorities. Three were good. Four were adequate, and three unsatisfactory. Estyn found that local authorities were not using their powers effectively; not intervening effectively; often they didn’t know enough about the performance of their schools. Many were not providing sufficient support to their schools.

The regional consortia are providing that capacity, providing stronger and more substantial school improvement services built on recent or existing practitioner involvement.

In my speech last June, I warned that local authorities had a year to start to demonstrate that they were delivering. Regional working is in place. But local authorities have to demonstrate both that they are delivering improved performance and that they are delegating 80 per cent of their budgets to schools by September 2012 and 85 per cent by September 2014. I warned local authorities that there would be a further review by 2013, as recommended by the Task and Finish Group on the Structure of Delivery of Education. I said that if they couldn’t demonstrate that they were delivering, then “more radical restructuring of education delivery on a regional basis should follow”.

That still remains my expectation. It is my view that teachers and headteachers simply cannot be as effective as you want to be, as I want you to be, without local authorities playing their part.

I will have more to say on the review of consortium working in June.

The McKinsey Report global education report of 2007 said that ‘The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers’.

We have world-class teachers and headteachers in Wales. We have world-class best practice in Wales. What we need to do better, is share that best practice across the whole of Wales, and enable all teachers to have access to it. It is what happens in the classroom that really matters. Great teachers matter. Great leaders matter.

We said in our manifesto that ‘the best teachers can have a lifelong effect on all of us and we have some world-class teachers in Wales. We want to support teachers in their work and to raise the esteem in which they are held’.

In my job, I see that every week, the difference that the best teachers make to a child’s development.

What we are asking of all schools is to replicate in the future what is already happening in the best schools today.

We know we have work to do. We want to bring the world’s greatest knowledge from much better school organisations, to enable our professionals to take that world class experience of high reliability teaching methods and develop it for their own situation. We want to do this so our children have the opportunity to show what they can do. The basics are important because they open doors on a world of learning. We need the basics in place not least for children from disadvantaged backgrounds who are dependent on their schools to give them what middle class parents can buy.

We said in our manifesto that ‘We want our young people to be taught by the brightest and the best’.

Today, I want to talk about good practice. Best practice. Because the best teachers I see in schools in Wales are eager and keen to learn about the best practice. They want to know about the best practice because they care about learning. They like learning.

That is why networks like i-Net and addcym work. That is why the NGfL’s teachmeets have worked. The truth is that teachers are out there sharing ideas and learning from each other. There is a thirst for learning in the profession.

That’s why we have sought to engage the profession through the development of professional learning communities. We know there needs to be a national model for these, if they are to be effective. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) have to deliver. Used properly, they are a powerful tool for spreading best practice. Our new guidance will explain that better.

I believe there is always something to learn. I admit that not everyone wants to learn the ins and outs of Welsh grammar, how to get to the next level of Angry Birds, the minutiae of the political history of the Rhondda, how to tweet in Welsh, the fastest way to cut video, the links between their family history and the industrial history of south Wales, or the relations between media, culture and democracy in a small stateless nation, but I do.

I like learning new stuff. And so do most people I meet in Education.

I have said before, and others have confirmed this, that we have some world class teaching and learning in Wales.

I want us to celebrate that teaching and learning. Because I am continually excited at what I see in schools in Wales where excellent teachers are sharing ideas and examples of good practice.

Of course, if teaching is to be a high-quality profession, then we need to ensure professional standards are in place, and we need to develop an appropriate suite of qualifications on a continuum of learning for different staff, along with a registration process for those working in the profession. We also need to ensure that our initial teacher training is fit for purpose.

We will be making changes to the way in which we promote careers in the school workforce. We will have new powers which will enable us to take matters in this area forward from Wales, and we will be looking to develop this work over the next few years with a strong Welsh focus.

And through the Master’s in educational practice, we are elevating the status of the profession.

But we also need to be sure that we are reflecting the best practice in our department, and being a resource of support and excellent practice to the profession.

Although we have some of the best practice here in Wales, we are not very good at sharing that. And even when we do – it is not on a systematic basis but through random acts of kindness. We need to develop a consistent method across Wales to disseminate good practice and ensure its implementation. I have asked the School Standards Unit to work with stakeholders to develop such a process and to work with consortia and schools to set it in place.

We are already collecting examples of best practice on a common format for our website. Estyn are also engaged in this process. Together we will ensure the most up-to-date examples of good practice are quality assured and available as a starting point for where it is most needed.

I don’t want a situation where the exciting areas of teaching and learning are going on elsewhere and my department simply focuses on regulation, standard-setting, and budgetary management.

I want my department to engage systematically with leading teachers and headteachers. But as we do we will go at the pace of the system leaders, not at the pace of the slowest.

So today, I am announcing the creation of a Practitioners’ Panel to advise me and the department on best practice, the exchange of ideas between teachers and headteachers, and the quality of materials and resources that we are putting out into the system. The panel will meet every two months. They will be leading headteachers or teachers and they will serve for two years then hand over to a new panel.

They will have input to the design of the new Learning Wales website that will build on the NGfL.

Today we are also trialling the format and content for PLC on-line support package as part of the new Learning Wales website.

Building on case studies of real learning and teaching that are helping to turn round performance in Wales.

Of course, we already have practitioners engaged throughout the department, such as in the Task and Finish Group on the Master’s led by Emmajane Milton of Duffryn Infants School in Newport, building on the work done for us by Professor Alma Harris.

One of the most exciting developments has been what is being done in terms of teaching through new media. I am very much looking forward to the report of the Digital Classroom Teaching Task and Finish group chaired by Janet Hayward.

Some schools have already grasped digital technology as a tool to enhance the learning experience and importantly engage with pupils ‘in their world’. I have seen this at first hand when I recently visited Casllwchwr School in Neath Port Talbot. The school received NAACE’s Third Millennium Learning Award in December 2011 as it has embedded ICT into all aspects of school life.

The use of technology at this school has transformed the learning experience. The curriculum has been reshaped by access to a toolkit of apps and a wealth of information. And the school has noticed improvements in pupil performance, in particular boys’ literacy.

The school is also keen not to leave parents behind. It has now started a parents training club so that pupils and parents can learn alongside each other.

In Rhos y Medre Primary school in Wrexham we also have examples of the school working on the digital literacy of parents, using Macbooks bought with the One Wales laptop pilot money. This is a school where Flying Start is integral to the work it is doing and where there is a clear understanding that the Foundation Phase is about far more than play

Or take Bishop Gore School in Swansea.

By setting an aspirational grade, the school has raised expectations for all pupils. It has set a global grade for all pupils which gives them one grade for their overall progress across all subjects, which means there is a clear understanding by all – pupils, teachers and parents. The grade is reviewed with parents and parental attendance at these sessions stands at between 85 per cent and 90 per cent.

Eirias High School in Conwy together with its catchment primaries has carried out a detailed study of pupils’ progress from entry to primary school up to Year 11. By Year 11, pupils are expected to have progressed by at least seven national curriculum levels. A detailed analysis is made of those pupils that don’t.

The school also leads a PLC for mathematics with its fellow secondary schools in the county. The head of mathematics supports neighbouring schools and researches best practice in mathematics pedagogy. There has been a positive impact in that there has been a 15.2 per cent rise in the last two years in the numbers of pupils at Eirias-led schools gaining a pass at grades A*–C in GCSE mathematics.

One of the most improved schools in Wales is St Mary Immaculate in Cardiff. In its Estyn inspection during May 2009 the school was found to be in need of significant improvement. Following that inspection the current headteacher took up post and in its re-inspection in January 2011, the school was found to have made good progress and removed from this category.

The school uses detailed pupil tracking systems on a uniform basis. It attributes the sharp rise in performance and the challenging targets set for 2012 and beyond to this system. Over the last two years, standards for the Level 2 threshold including English and mathematics have risen from 9.7 per cent in 2009 to 40 per cent in 2011; in mathematics they rose from 10.7 per cent in 2009 to 46 per cent in 2011; in English standards rose from 39.8 per cent in 2009 to 60.2 per cent in 2011.

Another exemplar of best practice is Sandfields School in Port Talbot. It has highly effective transition procedures and pupil tracking. The school works very closely with all feeder schools to ensure transition is the best it can be. The school has a teacher dedicated to developing highly effective transition processes for all Year 7 pupils. This begins in Year 4 with pupils in each feeder school and the teacher spends one day in each feeder school, working directly with individual pupils.

Year 5 pupils are set Cognitive Abilities Tests (CATs) in the autumn term by Sandfields in each feeder school. The Transition Teacher ensures consistency across all feeder school staff. This teacher then spends the first three weeks of the new autumn term in the secondary school to help pupils develop their emotional intelligence and key competencies during this time.

The best practice here is that the school knows its pupils well. Teachers and pupils are aware of their annual targets for improvement, as well as their work on progress targets. Parents have access to certain information so that they can be kept informed about progress, or otherwise.

We can learn from Herbert Thompson Primary school in Cardiff. They have worked to encourage parents to play an active part in the life of the school and to take a close interest in their children’s education. A particularly good feature is the parent council.

The council provides an effective way to ensure that the school engages effectively with its parents by listening to parents’ views and ensuring that parents feel valued. Success of the approach is demonstrated through the Key Stage 2 outcomes for core subjects. These have improved significantly over the past four years and the core subject indicator is well above the average for similar schools. The gap between the achievement of learners eligible for free school meals and those who are not has narrowed over the past four years and is now smaller than the average for similar schools and the national average.

Another school that knows its pupils well is Lliswerry Primary School in Newport. It uses a number of interrelated strategies across the whole school to tackle the underachievement of its disadvantaged learners. Using an assessment tracking and monitoring system, the school has been effective in identifying disadvantaged learners who are underachieving and raising their achievement. The school tracks the progress of individual learners, groups and classes. The senior leadership team then analyses the data.

The team also analyses learners’ progress in literacy and numeracy to highlight good features and shortcomings in both teaching and learning. Information from Cognitive Abilities Tests (CATs) which are taken in Year 4 is used to inform target setting.

At the end of the year the analysis is passed on to the receiving teacher to inform planning and to set targets for each pupil. Learners are given realistic and challenging targets and each child’s achievement towards these goals is tracked.

Ysgol Emmanuel School in Rhyl has in place detailed systems for moderating teacher assessments. It has worked to eradicate within school variation in assessment.

Governors at Ysgol Emmanuel have an in depth knowledge of the performance of the school and rigorously hold it to account for the standards it achieves. They take an active role in the process.

The school has identified governors to be responsible for different aspects of the school’s work, including individual curricular areas. For example, the governor responsible for literacy plays a full part in monitoring the standards of literacy at the school, through a range of activities including lesson observation.

The school has a robust and meticulous system to track progress leading to clear actions that have an impact on standards. The school leaders also discuss the core data sets with the governors and identify the actions to be taken. Governors, acting as critical friends, are able to challenge the school leaders in a supportive manner.

I am pleased to report that this focus on practitioner leadership is being rolled out through the consortia.

All regions of Wales are currently deploying successful senior practitioners to support other schools. In addition to the emerging regional school improvement models across Wales, where regional teams of school improvement officers are being selected for the strength of their experience in raising standards through challenge and support to school leadership teams – a refocusing from more traditional general school advisory services, additional resources will be freed up to increase the numbers of high-performing headteachers working to support other schools.

System leaders will build the skills, knowledge and capacity of other teachers and practitioners in sharing effective practice and supporting other teachers to access high-quality materials and resources and their expertise will range from literacy or numeracy, to expert subject teachers, those skilled in behaviour management to supporting learners with additional learning needs (ALN).

System leaders are key to the turn-around strategies being developed by the regional consortia for schools in Bands 4 and 5.

All plans give targets for improving the numbers of pupils attaining the Level 2 threshold inclusive of English/Welsh first language and mathematics. A total of £480,000 has been made available to consortia to support these plans.

Plans typically include additional teacher or teaching and learning assistant time to support underperforming pupils. At Llantarnam School in Torfaen, small groups of pupils who are falling behind are withdrawn from class for two hours per week for mathematics and another two hours for English so that they can catch up. This is an excellent example of targeted support for individual pupils to improve their attainment at GCSE and will therefore make a big difference to their life chances.

This targeted support is not just about individual schools. Across the Central South Consortium, six schools are receiving focused support to improve the quality of teaching and learning at Key Stage 4. The schools are Afon Taf in Merthyr Tydfil, Pencoed in Bridgend, Bedwas in Caerphilly, and Tonyrefail, Porth and Tonypandy in Rhondda Cynon Taff. There is an action plan for these schools which:

  • uses banding and local contextual information to identify underperformance
  • identifies factors contributing to this underperformance
  • details agreed actions and accountabilities to raise standards
  • concentrates on sharing data and increasing leadership capacity and
  • identifies measurable success criteria and attainment outcomes for July, 2012.

In the north, booster classes are being used to raise standards. These are classes of pupils who are performing below their expected targets and who need to have specific aspects of mathematics, English/Welsh first language re-enforced. Pupils have specific short and medium term targets in relation to progress. Their ultimate target is to reach their predicted target grades for GCSE.

I spoke earlier about a professional learning community in Conwy which has been working since the autumn of last year to raise the standards of teaching and learning in mathematics. The PLC has worked with a small number of teachers across English and Welsh medium to create high-quality teaching materials. A training day was attended by 40 mathematics teachers in January where this best practice was disseminated and taken back in to their schools. The PLC has set challenging goals in terms of increasing the amount of good and excellent lessons and to improve outcomes at GCSE maths starting this summer.

After last year’s Estyn Inspection of Cardiff Council, they quickly established an Implementation Board to oversee rapid, effective achievement of Estyn’s recommendations.

The local authority has recruited a number of secondary systems leaders externally. They all have distinguished track records of turning round very challenging schools, for example, in Inner London, Coventry, etc. All seven very challenged secondary schools now have an expert Systems Leader, who is working intensively with the Leadership Teams to bring about step change improvement, in all aspects of standards and performance. In one school (Llanrumney) an interim ‘Super Head’ has been appointed.

Level 2 threshold targets for all schools, including the ‘seven’ have been greatly increased, in return for in the latter case, intensive, expert challenge and support.

The local authority has provided resources in the form of extra delegation and additional funding to schools with poor ethos and high levels of challenging behaviour, again in return for intensive challenge.

These examples have come about because practitioners are forensically examining pupil data and acting upon it to identify the precise learning needs of individual pupils. These should not be isolated examples but normal practice throughout Wales.

Today I have focused principally on examples of good practice. I know we can turn performance around in Wales.

Working together, learning together, we can make a difference.

Innovation in IT.

Detailed use of data to break the deprivation and attainment link.

Genuine parent and governor involvement.

Proper individualised plans for pupils falling behind.

This is what our best teachers are doing in Wales today to improve the Wales of tomorrow.

World class teaching giving Wales’ children the best start in life – no matter where they are born, or what school they attend.

Our challenge now, which we must meet together, is to turn best practise into normal practise.

I am confident that we can do just that.

Leighton Andrews AM is Minister for Education and Skills. The title refers to a lecture Leighton Andrews gave to an IWA meeting in Cardiff a year ago, which can be viewed here.

Also within People and Places