Showing posts from March, 2017

We need to be honest about our schools

Column published in Llanelli Herald on March 10th 2017 I get sent lots of reports. To be honest I don’t read all of them - it would take up all of my time. But I did make sure I read the annual report of the Welsh School inspectorate, Estyn , ahead of a debate in the Senedd about it this week.. There were many positives about the state of our schools - for example, 70% of the primary schools inspected this year are rated as Good or better. There is some world class teaching in Welsh schools - in fact the Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams sung the praises of Maes y Morfa Head Joe Cudd in the Assembly debate for his passion about providing the best possible education for his pupils. There are many Heads like Mr Cudd who do not take the deprivation of their communities as an excuse for poor performance, but as a spur for excellence. But as the Estyn report points out there is far too much variation.“The gap between providers that are doing well and those that are not i

What would I do without my music?

Published as a column in the Llanelli Herald on March 3rd 2017 Imagine the scene: A music teacher with just 30 minutes to teach a dozen children - each with different levels of proficiency, and many playing different brass instruments. After they’d each tuned their instruments and sorted their sheet music out there was little time left to teach them much new - let alone tailor teaching to their individual needs. This was an example quoted to me by Gareth Kirby the Carmarthenshire Music Service co-ordinator. The experience left him frazzled, understandably. He was giving evidence to the Assembly’s Culture Committee as part of our inquiry into the state of music education. It’s a topic we’re investigating after a public vote to choose which subject we should look at. The distinguished conductor of the Welsh Proms, Owain Arwel Hughes, described the state of music in school as a ‘crisis’. He told our committee that cuts to school budgets mean Wales is at risk of losing its