Education Consultation – Wales

Wales needs feedback about ensuring term dates are agreed on a Wales-wide basis and also home based education.

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Plans to harmonise term dates for all maintained schools in  Wales have been unveiled by the Welsh Government.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews wants to place a legal duty on local  authorities to agree school term dates on a Wales-wide basis.

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on the proposals which, if  supported, would allow ministers power to ensure “appropriate” term dates are  set.

Despite years of discussion between teaching unions and directors of  education, the uniformity of school holidays remains an issue in Wales.

Variation in term times impacts particularly on families of teachers, where  parents teach in different, often neighbouring, counties.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of teaching union ATL Cymru, welcomed the proposals  which he hoped would address the “immense problems” for staff and children.

“There is often little reason why different dates are chosen by local  authorities and it is obviously ludicrous that in a country as small as Wales  there could potentially be up to 22 different dates,” he said.

“It’s good that the minister is inviting stakeholders to sort the matter out  themselves, but he is right to say that he will do so if they do not. Parents,  teachers and children will welcome this more robust approach.”

In a separate development, the Welsh Government has also launched a  consultation into the monitoring of home-based education.

Mr Andrews wants to ensure children who are educated at home receive a “suitable education” correct to their age, aptitude and ability.

The move would create a compulsory registration system, but would not force  home-schooled children to follow a particular curriculum or take national  exams.

Mr Andrews said: “I believe the current legislation surrounding elective home  education has shortcomings because there is no legal requirement on the parent  to tell a local authority that a child is receiving education at home.

“In the absence of this requirement, it is very difficult for local  authorities to carry out their duties to ensure that children are receiving a  suitable education. For these reasons, I am proposing the introduction of a  compulsory registration and monitoring scheme for home-educated children.”

Figures released last week by the Welsh Government revealed that 986 pupils  were taken out of local authority education to be taught at home last year – compared to 896 in 2010-11.

Both education consultations run for 12 weeks and close in November

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