The 2011 education manifestos from across all political parities in Wales held common themes in several areas specially linked to early years, primary and secondary education. Commonality around policy can be found within the Further and Higher Education sectors; however, there are considerable differences, which are fundamental to the delivery of both these educational sectors.
A key area of shared focus is on improving pupil attainment outcomes, with further support to close the education poverty gap. All parties suggest improved funding to support this work.
Early years education and intervention, pre statutory education age is themed in the majority of manifestos. Wanting to build on the current work in the Foundation Phase and Flying Start to improve outcomes within the Primary sector making a clear link to improved outcomes in the Secondary Sector, if Primary aged children’s attainment is higher went they enter secondary school. Welsh Labour specifically focusing on expanding Flying Start up to benefit 36,000 children.
Reviewing the National Curriculum is a key commitment of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru albeit for differing rational. Welsh Labour’s focus is based on simplification of qualifications, developing national testing and improving the qualifications of teachers to Masters level.
Within the Welsh Medium sector there is a commitment from all parties to ensure increasing parental demand is met along with improving the offer of Welsh Medium within early years services.
Further Education commitments focus on mergers of colleges within the Welsh Labour Manifesto to the Liberal Democrats wishing to improve access to Adult Community Learning courses. There is consensus around the importance of the FE sector to improve the skills mix of the workforce within Wales.
Commitments around tuition fees are a clear contrast between Plaid Cymru, Welsh Labour, Liberal Democrats, Welsh Greens and the Conservatives. All the left of centre parties make clear their commitment to not increasing fees during the course of the Assembly Term. The Conservatives commit to capping fees at £9000.