Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods
Sefydliad Ymchwil Gymdeithasol ac Economaidd, Data a Dulliau Cymru

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A Crisis of Welsh Education? A Review of the Current Evidence

Paper submitted to Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

Start date: 1st October 2013

End date: 31st December 2013

Funder: Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

Funding: £7,500

Research Team
Professor Gareth Rees 
Profesor Chris Taylor


The aim of the project is to provide an analysis of the current state of education in Wales, based upon a critical review of the available evidence. This analysis will provide the basis for the development of a future programme of educational research.

More specifically, the objectives are:

  • To construct a robust ‘political arithmetic’ of the performance of the Welsh education system and of the distribution of educational opportunities, based on statistical sources;
  • To compare the Welsh performance in these regards to that in other parts of the UK and more widely;
  • To elaborate the implications of these analyses for education policy in Wales;
  • To identify areas where further research is required and how this research might be carried out. 

The project will:

  • carry out a critical examination of the PISA results for Wales in 2006, 2009 and 2012. It will also spell out the implications of this interpretation of PISA results for education policy in Wales.
  • produce a ‘home-international’ analysis of educational attainment based on these kinds of standard measures, but taking account of the differences in the ways that these ‘standard’ measures are constructed.
  • explore the relationships between these sorts of measures of educational attainment and alternative bases for conducting ‘home international’ comparisons, such as the Millennium Cohort Study.
  • evaluate critically the statistical evidence in relation to four dimensions of variation in educational attainment that are internal to Wales (LES; school; individual; Welsh language). Where appropriate, comparisons will be made with equivalent evidence elsewhere in the UK.
  • provide a series of recommendations as to areas in which further research is required and the means by which such research could be carried out. 



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