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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lib Dem AM slams `back to grammars' plan

Aled Roberts AM has blasted the Welsh Conservatives’ proposals to extend grammar schools as a “rose tinted Tory view of the past” and has accused the party of failing to operate in the “here and now”.
Mr Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Education, said: “Once again the Welsh Tories are throwing around policy ideas without any idea how they would implement them.  They are refusing to operate in the here and now, instead reflecting on their rose-tinted Tory view of the past when many children were written off at 11.  Their current proposal would instead see children cast aside when they’re 14.
“A recent report showed that the odds of pupils entitled to free school meals securing a place at a grammar school were nearly five times lower than for other pupils.  Creating more grammar schools would merely extend the attainment gap that already exists between pupils from affluent and less affluent backgrounds.
“Wales needs to target efforts on raising teaching standards and further restructuring would simply distract these efforts.  It would be interesting to know how the Tories would afford this re-structure, bearing in mind that at the last election they wanted to slash the education budget by 20%.
“Not so long ago the Welsh Tories called for people to be charged to use the NHS if they injure themselves doing ‘irresponsible’ activities, such as ‘skiing or rock-climbing’;  a policy they appeared to drop in a matter of hours. 
"It’s all very well grabbing a quick headline, but to be taken seriously they really must start thinking their policies through.  There are real practical difficulties with this proposals, particularly in rural areas.  We believe, as a principle, that there is no difficulty in pupils of all abilities achieving their potential under the comprehensive system as long as the proper processes are in place to keep standards high.”

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