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The Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, Jane Davidson, has spoken in response to the Annual Report for 2004-5 of the Chief Inspector of Education and Training.

The report found that there remained a mixed picture for Wales. The Chief Inspector praised the work that had been done in driving up standards in primary and secondary education and recognised the rising level of success for adult learners. However, the level of provision in some Further Education colleges was singled out for criticism, and the level of work based learning and vocational learning provision was found to be inadequate on the whole with uneven provision. The minister preferred to take a positive approach to the report, whilst recognising that much still needs to be done to bring skills and education provision onto an equal footing.

Pleased at Publication

Stating that she was "pleased" at the publication of the report, Ms. Davidson pointed out that the separate and distinctive agenda for Wales was part of the reason for the rise in achievement, saying: "It is pleasing to see that the Chief Inspector's annual report confirms that our distinctive agenda for Wales - The Learning Country - continues to raise standards, break down barriers to learning, lift our skills base and remove obstacles to effective learning and teaching."

She also took the time to praise the new inspection framework, saying: "This is the initial report based on evidence drawn from Estyn's new inspection framework. The framework provides, for the first time, a common base for inspection of all the key sectors of education and training. And the news for practitioners and learners across Wales is that there is much to celebrate.

"Early years provision and schools provide the bedrock for learning," she continued. I am pleased, therefore, with the Chief Inspector's conclusion that under 5s are making good or very good progress in nearly all settings." She also welcomed the findings on teaching quality, saying: "In addition, the quality of teaching in the primary and secondary sectors continues to improve year on year. Overall this is a substantial achievement although there is still much to do."

The gap in attainment between boys and girls was highlighted in the inspection report, and Ms. Davidson stated that she was committed to closing that gap, saying: "I share the Chief Inspector's view that we need to close the gap between the relative achievement of boys and girls and I have asked Estyn to provide further advice on how we can build on best practice to improve the performance of boys "“ generally in literacy and in particular in the National Curriculum subjects of English and Welsh."

Work Ahead

The findings of the report regarding the need to improve work "“ based learning were accepted by the minister, who said: "I share the Inspectorate's assessment that we need to continue to improve the quality of work based learning. Work is already in hand to review the performance of providers and to drive up quality and standards where they are not satisfactory. Where providers have been identified as giving rise to concern, ELWa will be requiring action to address these concerns immediately with a view to demonstrating an improvement over the course of the next 6 months. Ongoing support will be provided by Learning Provision teams with soon-to-be-appointed Performance Improvement Advisers targeting providers identified as having greatest need of support.

"Our approach in Wales looks to put the interests of learners first and offer wider access and opportunities for all," she continued. "I was particularly pleased, therefore, that the Chief Inspector's report was launched at City and County of Swansea Employment Training. Work based learning has a central role to play in ensuring that we have rich and diverse range of opportunities both for 14-19 year olds and to support the development of our skills base."

She also went into some detail regarding what is next in the challenge of meeting this skills provision gap, saying: "But there is always room for improvement. That is why we have appointed a Vocational Skills Champion. His job is to raise the profile of vocational learning and skills, identifying the key barriers that are holding back the expansion of good quality vocational learning for all age groups. I have also asked ELWa to submit an Improvement Plan for Work Based Learning by the end of the January. A key aim of the Improvement Plan will be to ensure that standards in the work based learning sector are improved sufficiently to ensure it can contribute to the success of the 14-19 Learning Pathways."

Ms. Davidson concluded by saying that she and ELWa are "firmly on track to realise our ambition to make Wales a learning country." Whether or not this comes to pass will depend greatly on the ability of the Vocational Skills Champion and of ELWa to drive forward in productive directions and to establish the best procedures for long term success.

Jethro Marsh

Is this how to improve vocational and work based learning in Wales? Tell us your reaction to the report and to Ms. Davidson's response in the FE Blog

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

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FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

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Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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