Children and young People aspirations

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    The ‘clarification’ statement by the Chief executive has failed to acknowledge that more than half of our current secondary school children have been ‘educated’ in a school in Special Measures for a minimum of one school year – some have endured 2/3 years. Out of all our 16 – 18-year-olds the figures of this attending a school in special measures is even higher.

    There are many who have gone onto good jobs and additional education but nowhere near enough – not because they don’t have aspirations or dreams but because the schools and Local Authority have failed them.

    If you are a child who have to go through the care system in Wrexham their chances of fulfilling their dreams are cut dramatically. In 2000 there was a Welsh Government programme called 21st Centure Schools for a 21st Century Education – 22 year later this is still not being achieved.



    The Butler Education Act of 1944 was designed to revolutionise the education of children over the age of 11. It talked about pairing the specific abilities and aptitudes of children with the type of Secondary Education they received. In the 1970s, it was abandoned, in the face of accusations of elitism and stigmatisation, and replaced by Comprehensive Secondary schools. I taught in Grove Park.

    Not content with Comprehensives, the Secondaries in Wales rapidly moved towards GCSE, replacing O levels and Mixed Ability classes replacing setting. The icing on the cake was Child centred education and a common core curriculum.

    Move forward 50 years and where has “progress” taken us. Wales is now at the bottom of the pile across the western world. Within Wales, Wrexham regularly competes in a race to the Educational bottom. In England, David Blunkett was not the first Labour politician to realise that something had gone wrong with the abandonment of Butler. Academies were one response, diversification and choice another. More recently, Michael Gove has attempted to restore standards to exam courses.

    Where are we in Wrexham. Walk into a classroom at Secondary level. In those subject areas where Mixed Ability prevails, 30+ children ranging in ability from potential Oxbridge students to those with a reading age perhaps 7 years below them share a class-room with a teacher “encouraged” not to use the didactic (teaching from the front). Child-centred means that the student (in theory) generates an answer to work presented to the class, but supposedly tailored to the individual therein, the child working from gradated material, the teacher providing individual support according to specific needs.

    What could possibly go wrong in a class of 35. The lack of didactic means that the logical focus of the class isn’t the teacher and the work rhythm that many of you enjoyed years ago has been replaced by something markedly different. Whilst inspiring teachers circumvent the trials and tribulations and gifted students still excel, many working class children crash and burn with little addition to their educational advancement between years 7 and 11.

    So when you next read a report on our schools, read it and weep. For those schools and children defying the odds, well done



    Alun your frustration as an ex-teacher is very clear and must be sad that a profession you were in for so long is in the state of failing many young people.

    There have been many attempts to change teaching methods but equally changes to exam grades to ensure that politicians still see levels of success in league tables showing their latest education reform is working. The system is still regularly failing many of our Young People.

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