So, how did Ynys Môn's secondary schools perform? See below:
How do these results compare with the rest of Wales though? See below to see how each Ynys Môn school performed in terms of % pupils achieving a A*-C GCSE including English/Welsh and Maths against the average attainment in each Wales county:
|% 5 A*-C GCSEs inc. English/Welsh and Maths|
Ynys Môn schools (in black) compared to average results in each Welsh County
Click to enlarge
When put into context like this, it is clear that pupils in Menai Bridge and Llangefni are on average achieving some of the best results in Wales. However the performance of some of the other schools on Ynys Môn clearly demonstrate cause for considerable concern — even taking into account the fact that schools in poorer catchment areas tend to under-attain academically.
If interested, you can see the complete "crude" league table of the GCSE results of each of Wales's 222 schools used to generate the above chart here.
Of course these results are only a snapshot in time of just a single measure — performance in one set of exams. As these figures are not produced annually it is impossible to see if schools are on average improving or declining — as I noted at the beginning these figures were only obtained this time due to FOI requests from BBC Wales. However, thanks to the OECD's PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) programme which compares 10,000 15-year-old students worldwide in reading, maths and science, we are able to see how Welsh pupils compare internationally over time. Conducted every five years the 2009 results for Wales were the lowest in the United Kingdom and clearly shows that a considerable gap has opened up between the attainment of Welsh students and those from other regions in the UK, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland:
|2009 Rankings in the PISA tests|
As Education is one of the key functions of economic performance, the above poor PISA results show that we are just storing up further economic problems in the future for ourselves here in Wales. In order to compete as a small country on the periphery of Western Europe, educational levels are one of the most important tools in our armoury to attract new businesses here. Why would any company want to set up in a region which not only is further away from the major markets, has higher business rates than the rest of the UK, but also has lower average levels of educational attainment? Education is absolutely crucial to both Ynys Môn and Wales if we are to create and sustain better, well paying jobs in the future
My personal view is that our current education system needs to be radically overhauled in Wales — merely tinkering around the edges will not produce the vast improvements necessary to ensure future economic success. Our school system, throughout the UK, is one-size-fits-all and overly focussed on academic subjects and funnelling more and more students into a university education. The problem is that not all children are necessarily academically minded. In my view Wales would be far better served by introducing an education system more similar to that in Germany where pupils are streamed around ages 10-11 based on their aptitude into either academic-based schools (called Gymnasiums in Germany) which will prepare them for university, or into more vocational-based schools (Hauptschules and Realschules) which lead to full apprenticeships or further vocation training.
|The German Education System|
It is not by accident that Germany has the largest manufacturing base in Europe and is home to some of the largest and most successful engineering and manufacturing companies in the world. There is clearly a lot that we can learn from the German eduction system (amongst others) if we want to transform our future economy — but unfortunately that requires our Welsh Government to be bold... But what is the point of devolution if we are merely going to continue doing the same as the rest of the UK?