First Minister accused by Welsh Tory leader of making ‘dog’s dinner’ out of PISA figures
Andrew RT Davies has accused Mark Drakeford of making a “dog’s dinner” out of Wales’ PISA results after the First Minister appeared to mis-quote statistics during FMQs this week.
On Tuesday (December 5) the latest Programme for International Student Assessment figures were announced and Welsh teenagers were placed at the bottom of UK’s four devolved education systems in maths, reading and science.
England was the highest achiever out of the UK nations in the assessment which is based on tests taken by 15-year-olds from around the world.
Northern Ireland outperformed Scotland at maths and science and Scotland was better than Northern Ireland at reading.
Wales’ Education Minister, Jeremy Miles highlighted the pandemic as the reason for “derailed improvement” in the key PISA subject areas.
The research, run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported an “unprecedented drop” in performance across the participating countries when comparing the 2022 study to 2018.
In the Senedd following the results announcement, the leader of the opposition in Wales pressed the First Minister on the figures.
During the exchange, Mark Drakeford suggested maths scores had fallen in Wales at the same number as scores in England.
He said: “I don’t want to get drawn too much into comparisons because this is not what PISA is meant to be. It’s not a league table, and it’s not meant to be something that is best seen through the lens of comparison.
“Just for the record, to be clear, the maths scores in Wales fell; they fell by exactly the same number as the English maths scores fell. The reading scores fell in Wales, as they fell in every other part of the United Kingdom.”
However, in maths, Wales’ average score fell by 21 points. It was 466 – down from 487 in 2018.
English pupils’ average score dropped by 12 points from 504 to 492 – significantly above the 472 OECD average.
Mr Drakeford added: “These are important results. We take them seriously. They are disappointing. I don’t think it does young people or those teachers who work so hard with them justice to pretend that somehow Wales is an outlier in them. We share the same pattern as 71 of the 81 countries that entered the PISA regime.”
Following the exchange, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives said: “The PISA results for Wales are the worst on record. The First Minister didn’t want to be drawn to make comparisons, because Wales’ best ever PISA results for reading and maths are still lower than England’s worst ever PISA results.
“That didn’t stop him from making a complete dog’s dinner of the figures, misquoting the statistics to suit his narrative.
“Instead of prioritising our children’s education, Labour ministers in the Senedd focused on blanket 20mph speed limits and 36 more politicians. This, not the pandemic, is the reason for these lamentable results.”
A spokesperson for Mr Drakeford said: “The First Minister was referring to the difference between 2022 and 2012 scores. Maths – in 2022, Wales and England both dropped by 3 score points compared to 2012.
“Reading – in 2022, Wales’ score decrease was 14 points lower than in 2012, while Scotland was 13 points lower (a negligible amount).”
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