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Bangor University research informs national policy and provides the evidence base for Wales’ first Rural Education Action Plan

Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams has today (11/10/18) launched the Welsh Government’s new Rural Education Action Plan that introduces a range of initiatives and measures for educational improvements and experiences across rural school areas of Wales.

The action plan forms a pivotal part of the transformation reforms outlined in Education in Wales - Our national mission 2017-21 that sets out Welsh Government’s strategy on how they aim to improve the school system by 2021 and details activities which will transform policy into practices in our schools. The action plan draws upon evidence and recommendations made in a research report led by Gwilym Siôn ap Gruffudd of Bangor University’s School of Education and Human Development. The report: Rethinking Educational Attainment and Poverty- in Rural Wales (REAP) was commissioned by Regional Education Consortia ERW and GwE as a result of a competitive tender process.

Professor Enlli Môn Thomas said:

“The application of our research findings in practice is one of the key drivers of our research activity within the School of Education and Human Development. With a child-centred focus, our research is geared towards improving the life outcomes for all children.”

Report lead researcher, Gwilym Siôn ap Gruffudd said:

“We are delighted that the findings from our primary research has had a positive and direct impact on Wales’ education policy  in this exciting transformative period and that we could provide and make available relevant, high quality research skills and impactful findings to inform high standards and world-class practice across Wales. This is the second such impact this research has had this year alone, REAP also informed the evidence base and Welsh Government decision to fund an extra £90 million per year going to all schools in Wales through the Pupil Development Grant ensuring that pupils and schools in rural Wales are supported to succeed”.    

The report recommendations that have been adopted include evidence that rural schools are well-placed for strong co-operation and collaboration, their inherent Welsh and rural culture also facilitate a strong sense of belonging and community. A national policy focused on education curriculum planning was also one of the main recommendations of the report, addressing a rapidly changing evidence-based teaching, policy and curriculum landscape.

Addressing the problem of digital deprivation in rural Wales, as recommended in the report, will allow the delivery of the best digital education resources and ensuring rural schools are modern educational and community hubs.

Professor Val Morrison responsible for the impact of research at the College of Human Sciences commented: 

 “The Welsh Government’s uptake of this report is indicative of the importance of Bangor colleagues’ research. Making an informed impact on educational policy and potentially more inclusive practice is undoubtedly important to future generations of schoolchildren across Wales.” 

The policy document also references another publication by Gwilym Siôn ap Gruffudd and Prof Judy Hutchings of Bangor University and others, who compare good practice in inclusive Pre-School Education in the Czech Republic, England, Slovakia and Wales.

Publication date: 11 October 2018