Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams has launched the Welsh Government’s new Rural Education Action Plan. The aim of the plan is to introduce a range of initiatives and measures for education improvements and experiences across rural school areas of Wales.
The plan forms a pivotal part of the transformation reforms outlined in the Education in Wales – Our National Mission 2017-21 which sets out the Welsh Government’s strategy to improve the school system by 2021; in which details activities which will transform policy into practices within schools.
The Rural Education Plan draws upon evidence and recommendations from a research report led by Gwilym Siôn ap Gruffudd of Bangor Universities School of Education and Human Development. The report: Rethinking Educational Attainment and Poverty – in Rural Wales (REAP) was commissioned by Regional Education Consortia ERW and GwE as a result of a competitive tender process.
Professor Enlli Môn Thomas said: “The application of our research findings in practice is one of the key drivers of our research activity within the School of Education and Human Development. With a child-centred focus, our research is geared towards improving the life outcomes for all children.”
Gwilym Siôn ap Gruffudd, the lead researcher, said: “We are delighted that the findings from our primary research has had a positive and direct impact on Wales’ education policy in this exciting transformative period and that we could provide and make available, relevant, high quality research skills and impactful findings to inform high standards and world-class practice across Wales. This is the second such impact this research has had this year alone, REAP also informed the evidence base and Welsh Government decision to fund an extra £90n million per year going to all schools in Wales through the Pupil Development Grant ensuring that pupils and schools in rural Wales are supported to succeed”.
The report recommendations that have been adopted include evidence that rural schools are well-placed for strong co-operation and collaboration, their inherent Welsh and rural culture facilitate a strong sense of belonging and community. There is also a national policy focused on education curriculum planning that was one of the main recommendations of the report, addressing a rapidly changing evidence-based teaching, policy and curriculum landscape.
Professor Val Morrison, who is responsible for the impact of research at the College of Human Sciences said: “The Welsh Government’s uptake of this report is indicative of the importance of Bangor colleagues’ research. Making an informed impact on educational policy and potentially more inclusive practice is undoubtedly important to future generations of schoolchildren across Wales.”
The policy document also references another publication by Gwilym Siôn ap Gruffudd and Prof Judy Hutchings of Bangor University and others, who compare good practice in inclusive Pre-School Education in the Czech Republic, England, Slovakia and Wales.