Recent studies have found that England’s GCSE students are performing better than their Welsh counterparts. And according to these studies, various demographic factors might be the cause. One of the main differentiators seems to be the higher proportion of minority ethnic students in Britain. Distorted league tables have also been stated as a reason for the discrepancy.
Students In England and Wales Seem to Be Performing Equally Before Secondary School
One interesting piece of data from the study is that students in Wales and students in England seem to be neck and neck until they reach secondary school. According to the Education Policy Institute, students in Wales performed just as well as students in England at the primary level. But by the time they reached the GSCE’s, England students had a higher chance of getting a C grade or better.
Luke Sibieta, the report’s author, stated that there was no doubt there was a discrepancy between Welsh students and students in England at the secondary level. But he also stated that the government needs to address the reasons why Welsh students seem to fall off once they enter secondary school. He stated that it was imperative that policymakers start studying what is driving those gaps, so they can find solutions.
Poverty may be at Cause too
The report stated that poverty might be at the root of the issue as well. The gap between the rich and the poor in Wales is more pronounced than in England. However, many Welsh educationalists refuted these finding by citing a 2015 Pisa survey by the OECD that stated that the gap between poor and rich students in Wales was less than in Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland.
But a 2016 Pisa test study still found that Welsh students lagged behind when it came to maths, science, and reading when compared to their counterparts in Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland. They also did worse on average when compared with students in the other 72 countries participating in the study. And though there was some improvement, especially when it came to maths results, the education secretary stated that there was still much room for improvement.
England Higher Rate of Minority Ethnic Students is Tipping the Scale
30% of Britain's students come from minority ethnic groups, which is almost three times as many as Wales. And since students from minority ethnic groups tend to perform better on average at the GSCE level, this has a direct effect on the gap between the two territories.
Lack of support at home might be one of the reasons why there is such a gap as well. Students in Wales might benefit from private tutoring, which may be more commonplace in England. This may be one of the reasons why services like Teachers to Your Home are such in demand. Children who undergo private tutoring have an advantage over those who didn’t when it comes to KS3s, GCSEs, and independent school entrance exams. Teachers to Your Home also provides specialised tutoring at the primary level as well.
The Welsh Government is Taking Action
A spokesperson for the Welsh administration recently came out to address their concerns with the results of the report. The spokesperson stated that the government is doing everything in its power to address the issue and is working on an education reform programme to correct the situation.
The spokesperson also stated that they’ve been increasing funding for poor students since 2016, introduced teacher training reforms, and also worked to support their most gifted pupils. They’ve also made some major changes to their assessment process and curriculum.
Performance Tables may Have an Effect
Wales’ decision to get rid of school league tables may also be an issue here and one of the reasons why England students might be outperforming Welsh students at the secondary level. The pressure in England to use vocational qualifications in order to stay above the government’s floor standards might also have an effect.
The Government will Need to Look Into Different Factors to Correct the Situation
Welsh officials and the government will eventually have to address solutions for the gap between students in Wales and England. These issues could also have far-reaching consequences for employers and universities trying to make GSEC results comparison between applicants from both territories.
According to observers, many other studies will have to be conducted to look more into details about how demographic shifts and schools might have an effect on these cross country gaps.
Lack of funding will also need to be addressed. Funding in Welsh schools is significantly worse than for England schools, and officials have stated that proper funding will be essential if they want to address these issues and implement curriculum reforms that will be essential to the future of Welsh students.