Why are Welsh schools failing individuals needs in education

Posted: February 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

Education is a very important starter in a children’s life as they spend at least twelve years being guided on problem solving, vocabulary, language, reading and writing. Teachers are the main contributors for this as they are employed by schools in order to meet social needs and teach the social skills of that society, reaching the demands an aims set by the curriculum.

Maloney 2012 stated that “Teaching is a strange profession as we do not ask a pilot to build and service an aircraft….. But in education we expect teachers to produce, create and manage every aspect of the educational process from the initial concept to the final mark and its timely reporting. All of this is without benefit of any specialised training in the instructional design of learning”. This is a worrying statement as we depend so much on our teachers and if they are not receiving the correct educational practices and methods how can they to truly optimise their students performances in the classroom and reach their needs.

Direct Instruction (Englemann) and Precision teaching (Hughes) are great mechanisms for increasing student grades and targeting independent problems.  Direct instruction involves highly scripted products followed by repetition and homogenous grouping. Precision teaching can be used to test individual learning on a daily basis using charting. Science needs measurements and PT does this, combined with direct instruction it can be very effective, Morningside Academy uses these in America and is a scientific laboratory teaching school. It’s results show that it can improve a childs’ educational performance at an effective and short period of time, but are yet to be adopted by many council run schools in the United Kingdom, although it has been around for decades, we still teach using the “traditional” method

The problems using traditional methods shows failings in teaching and 53% of adults do not have Level 1 numeracy skills in Wales after leaving education. (Welsh Assembly Government, 2005). Why has this happening now? Why is the education system failing individual needs and basic skills? Why do we not adapt to proven methods of education?

Former US Education secretary William Bennett also put a light on  how our educational failings do not include sufficient punishment. “There are greater, more certain, and more immediate punishments in this country for serving up a single rotten hamburger in a restaurant than repeatedly furnishing a thousand school children with a rotten education!” I really believe that this statement shows the reform that is needed in schools with more with schools now needed to be targeted and governing bodies in order to increase and improve the welfare and education for children and the governing bodies in which control them.

In 2011 the Welsh government released a banding system in order to rank the schools in each area and compare schools in your are. This shows that they are taking note in the situations and trying to make interventions, however this did create an uproar. The school I attended Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen received the lowest banding score resulting in many concerned parents in the area and complaints to the school. This might improve the schools teaching however the criticisms from the parents and the media coverage surely cannot be good, showing the decency and immaturity of the Welsh government in making their results public!

The government also set up a campaign in “Every child matter” in order to increase and improve the teachers accountability of accomplishing or failing children in education. This in my opinion has been needed as without this, the actions of teachers will not be accounted for which was a big problem in the past, but now seems to be improving the working environment and the use of effective instructions.

There are many questions still to be answered and this blog is just the tip of the iceberg to many flaws in the schools systems in Wales and the rest of the UK’s schools. Although changes have been implemented and interventions in the way schools are run and managed have changed, but the base of the curricula is still using traditional educational methods which is proving to be ineffective as the surveys suggest, therefore changing it to PT or DI would be more effective although the shift is very slow. Schools and teachers are now becoming more accountable for the students performances and so are the exam educational bodies therefore more is being done for the welfare of the next generation, although more reform is still needed in education in my opinion!

  1. niamh92 says:

    I think you touch on an incredibly important issue, as I think naiivly, we have assumed that we are very lucky in the UK with the education system we have. Whilst we are blessed with good facilities and an apparent emphasis on education, as you state, it is still failing many. When you discuss the Welsh Government exposing league tables and evaluations of schools, I’m tempted to look at it from another perspective. With education being fundamental to societies growth, surely we should be aware of where schools are excelling, and where improvement is needed? For parents too, you want to be aware of the true success of the school you send your child too, not just the glossy brochures that schools give to prospective students. These league tables are most likely going to encourage schools to improve as they do not want to be seen negatively, but hopefully it will also instill a form of accountability. Whilst one paper discussing this explains that there is some resistance to this being instilled in education, it is becoming more accepted as awareness of its importance spreads (Alexander, 2000). Links to the necessity of accountability in order for schools to meet set demands is also touched on, highlighting the importance of educators being self-aware of their role in the success in their pupils. Hopefully ,this way education will one day have more punishments for failing its students than serving up a bad hamburger!


  2. elue01 says:

    I think you have touched upon a very current issue in the teaching world. The Welsh Government is in the process of encouraging and promoting a ‘healthier’ curricula in order to give the individuals the needs and skills they require so much. I don’t think it is as easy as adapting a proven method for education, there is so much to consider and so much work and research that needs to be conducted first.

    Not only did the Welsh Government bring in the banding system but there is also the Welsh Charter that is becoming so dominant in Gwynedd and the surrounding cities in Wales. This may not be focusing on the numeracy of literacy aspect of learning but it is promoting the importance of Welsh and how vital a role it plays in the society. Furthermore, I feel that the work that is being done at the moment on the Foundation Phase is significant in improving the failings of teachers and their methods. This phase will enable the foundation for future success, in a creative, imaginable and effective way.

    I agree with the DI and PT work that is being conducted more and more in schools, since my education module with Mike Beverley I have learnt how important these two aspects of teaching are in developing a child’s independent learning and problems. Maybe by focusing on individuals and their problems in a more precise manner will allow for future generations to bring about a percentage significantly less than the 53% you have stated above.



  3. psuc18 says:

    After reading your post, I absolutely agree with your concluding paragraph that more should be done in the UK in terms of education. As eleue01 has stated in the comment previous to mine, my experience in studying education with Mike Beverly has taught me the importance of mechanisms such as Direct Instruction and Precision Training in schools around the world in order to ensure that students receive the greatest quality of learning. However I was horrified if not a little embarrassed to learn that The Welsh Assembly Government had revealed in 2005 that 53% of Welsh adults do not have Level 1 numeracy skills in Wales after leaving education. Therefore I am relieved that they have decided to finally take action and develop the banding system in 2011 that you have briefly mentioned in your post. Also being a former pupil I am aware that Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen received the lowest banding rating in the area and coincidently it was later revealed that the reason for this low rate was because of the teaching quality of the Mathematics department thus supporting the Welsh Government’s statement that numeracy skills in Welsh adults is poor. Furthermore, I am also aware that because of this banding system the school has taken much needed action in order to improve their numeracy department. Therefore this is an example to demonstrate the importance of the new system and how it is used to improve teaching qualities in Welsh schools. However it was also reported that the language department in Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen was one of the best in Gwynedd therefore do you think it’s fair that the whole school was given this low band because of problems in one department? I don’t believe that this is an accurate representation of the whole school therefore I think developments should be made to the system in order to give parents and pupils a better perspective of the quality of learning within particular departments of a particular school.

  4. psuce says:

    A very interesting blog which questions a lot of issues. When looking online at the Welsh Government (2011) at first glance it makes the idea of banding a good one at an attempt to raise standards and identify priorities for differentiated support and to show them what they can do to improve in the future.

    Controversially however when looking more in depth it doesn’t seem as though the school banding is a good idea. I am also a student from Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen and was surprised to see it in band 5 the worst band in 2011 as I don’t recall it being that poor. According to BBC news (2011) all schools in band 4 and 5 were given £10,000 pounds to improve however after all the money invested and the work the teachers had given the school was still in band 5 a year later. Therefore does this question the banding system as I can’t understand how after a year of financial investment and changes in the school it is still in band 5.

    Simon Thomas a Plaid Cymru education spokesman (2012) believe the system of banding is not credible as Ysgol Tryfan in Bangor which came top in 2011 in band 1 a year later has dropped to band 4 year later. This I believe shows us how the system of banding isn’t credible as how can standards in one school drop .

    Finally reported today in a Caernarfon Herald Newspaper (2013) Ysgol Brynrefail needs significant improvement according to Estyn school inspectors therefore how is it placed in band 2.

    To conclude I therefore completely agree with you that improvement is needed in the education in welsh schools but we should do this without observing the banding schools as evidence show it isn’t accurate.

    Welsh Government (2011) http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dcells/publications/121212bandingfaqen.pdf

    BBC news (2011)

    Simon Thomas (2012)

    Caernarfon Herald (2013)

  5. jmssol says:

    I agree that Direct Instruction is an effective instructional methodology that can help children succeed in an educational environment. The results of Project Follow Through have transpired much a debate regarding the efficacy of Direct Instruction. There is a large amount of evidence in support of the effectiveness of Direct Instruction. Adams and Engelmann (1996) conducted a meta-analysis and confirmed an overall substantial effect size (mean effect size, per study, as +.75).

    However, not all curriculum researchers are in agreement regarding the effectiveness of Direct Instruction. Research into reading instruction has demonstrated that the elements of Direct Instruction such as highly structured scripts are not as effective when compared to traditional methods (Ryder, Burton & Silberg, 2006). This study also revealed that teachers believed that Direct Instruction should not be employed as a main method in the teaching of children to read. Direction Instruction has also been criticized by teachers for an absent sensitivity to issues including culture, race and low socioeconomic status (Ryder, Burton & Silberg, 2006).

    Adams, G., & Engelmann, S. (1996). Research on direct instruction: 20 years beyond DISTAR. Seattle, WA: Educational
    Achievement Systems.
    Ryder, Randall J., Jennifer L. Burton, Anna Silberg. 2006. Longitudinal study of direct instruction effects from first through third grade. Journal of Educational Research, 99, 3, 179-191.

  6. Psyched says:

    I’d like to disagree with your comment “criticisms from the parents and the media coverage surely cannot be good, showing the decency and immaturity of the Welsh government in making their results public”. I think that showing the results lets parents make an informed choice about the school they are sending there child to and making parents aware of the failing in the school. I do however believe that the ‘branding’ or league tables need to show valid and measurable evidence before they make these results public.

    Interestingly the High School I attended in North Wales went into ‘Special measures’ along with a neighbouring school nearby within a couple of years, Special measures is when school inspection agencies believe the school fails to supply an ‘acceptable level of education’. Had my parents had the opportunity to more awareness about the school I was attending before it went into special measures I could have attended a school that did supply an ‘acceptable level of education’.

    I’d also argue that if a school publically goes into special measures it helps the school because of the Local Authority take notice of the failing, and having to report on it. Further, Shaw, Newton, Aitkin and Darnell (2003) found a slight increase in GCSE grades after special measures but Perryman (2006) argues that improvements could be surface level and not go beyond a temporary change, so ongoing evaluation and performance reviews should happen and also should be made public so school are accountable.



    Perryman,J, (2006). Panoptic performativity and school inspection regimes: disciplinary mechanisms and life under special measures. Journal of Education Policy, 21,(2), Pp 147-161. Retrieved from- http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02680930500500138

    Shaw, I. Newton, D,P. Aitkin, M and Darnell, R (2003). Do OFSTED Inspections of Secondary Schools Make a Difference to GCSE Results? British Educational Research Journal. 29, (1). Retrieved from- http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0141192032000057375

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