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21st Century Schools in Wales (May 2010)

21st Century Schools in Wales (May 2010)

Raising our education standards to world class levels, and providing a great start in life for every child is a challenging but key priority for Wales. But it is a priority we recognise will not be achieved unless school buildings are places that inspire both learners and teachers, accommodate 21st century technology and can adapt to meet the changing needs of learners.

That is why, in March of this year, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) launched the 21st Century Schools Programme; a long-term investment programme which will enable local authorities in Wales to provide learning environments which meet new developments in education and technology and are a resource for the whole community.

The delivery of 21st Century Schools is a clear commitment to the One Wales agenda (the coalition agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru) which committed the current Government to providing learning environments which respond to a changing society and rapid technological innovation in the 21st century and the WLGA is helping local authorities to plan ahead to take the programme forward.

Schools, like all other frontline services are preparing for unprecedented financial challenges as the recession continues to tighten its grip in Wales. 21st Century Schools will deliver a sustainable education system, through better use of resources, to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the education estate. The programme will also develop a 21st Century Schools Standard for all schools in Wales which aims to reduce recurrent costs, energy consumption and carbon emissions.

When will we start to see changes to school buildings in Wales? Following March’s launch event, the momentum of the programme has been picking up pace with an information document published online in May, and guidance on sustainability, ICT, teaching and learning and design standards set to be published by the end of 2010. By the 10th of December 2010, all 22 authorities in Wales will be asked to make an initial submission which sets out their strategy for long-term investment in all of their schools. Following this, an announcement in 2011 will be made regarding the overall programme and each authority’s place in it.

But most importantly, what are the rewards we expect to see from the funding and hard work which is going into the 21st Century Schools programme? The answer is many. An increase in attainment, a reduction in the number of young people leaving full-time education without qualifications, an increased number of young people progressing into further learning and a reduction in the number of 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training. The programme is a real opportunity to spread equality of life chances and outcomes in a rapidly developing knowledge economy.

The 21st Century Schools programme has a small team of people based at the WLGA working with both a national and local remit offering support and capacity building to all stakeholders. For more information about the 21st Century Schools programme email enquiries21stcs@wlga.gov.uk

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Guidance will identify best practice and innovation in the configuration and use of learning environments.