Some of the world’s leading educational thinkers have been brought together to support school improvement in Wales.
The Wales Education Commission has been established by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) to help facilitate improvements in teaching and learning.
Members, each with their own record of outstanding success in their fields, will be asked to comment on education policy; priorities for schools, colleges and universities; and the work needed to make sure children and young people from all backgrounds achieve their potential.
The Commission includes Philip Blaker, Chief Executive of Qualifications Wales; Carol Campbell, Professor of Education OISE at the University of Toronto; Paul Collard, Chief Executive of Creativity, Culture and Education; Professor Trevor Gale, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Glasgow; Laura Perille, Chief Executive of Boston-based Edvestors; Amy Sanders, Director of Dynamix, Swansea; Iram Siraj, Professor of Education at University College, London; Mick Waters, Professor of Education at Wolverhampton University; David Woods, Professor of Education at Warwick and London universities; and Professor Jim Ryan, Dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Commission will meet three times a year to consider major issues facing the education community in Wales and is a key strand of UWTSD’s newly-developed Athrofa – Institute of Education.
The Commission will act as a “critical friend” to the Welsh Government and educators across all sectors, facilitating debate and supporting Wales’ ambitious school improvement agenda.
Its first meeting took place at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff as Education Secretary Kirsty Williams outlined her vision for Wales’ education system in a major speech to key stakeholders.
It followed a similar address in September, during which Ms Williams called on universities to deliver on their “national mission” by working with schools, industry and international partners to raise standards.
UWTSD vice-chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes, who serves as chairman of the Commission, spoke of the group’s ambitious agenda.
He said: “I consider the establishment of the Wales Education Commission as a key development in the ongoing reform of our education system.
“The wealth of international expertise brought to Wales allows us to reflect critically, in an innovative manner, what are the appropriate developments for our education system.
“As a nation, we need to take ownership of such changes. The quality of our education system and the need to secure inclusive opportunities for young people in Wales are, in my view, above the politics of political parties.
“That is why universities have a role to play. I am proud of the fact that UWTSD has such a long-standing tradition in this area.
“We now need to build a future where excellence, high-quality professional opportunities and research come together to deliver for Wales.
“I am delighted by the support provided by this distinguished group of individuals, each of whom has gained immense respect for the contribution that they have made to improving education through their own work. “In bringing these key individuals together, UWTSD is demonstrating its pledge to deliver a quality system for Wales .
“We should not underestimate the strategic importance of establishing such a commission where international scholars and educators can work with schools and the teaching profession to further our distinctive offer.”
The Commission promises to draw on the testimony of expert witnesses in Wales and beyond, and deliver a series of open reports to the education community based on its observations.
Professor Dylan Jones, secretary to the Commission and director of the Athrofa, said: “The opportunity to learn from such a talented and successful group of educationalists is invaluable.
“We look forward to challenging and thought-provoking debates that will have an impact on the delivery of education and opportunities for young people throughout Wales.”