From 0-19: a radical blueprint for reform
An ambitious strategy to transform the entire education and training system in Wales has been launched by the Assembly government.
The plan, Y Siwrnai (the Journey), aims to develop a new blueprint for education that is intended to raise standards and deliver better value for money.
Although much of the detail has yet to be filled in, it will cover the full range of provision from early years to adult education and draw a number of existing policies together.
More primary and secondary school reorganisations are likely to take place, as local authorities are urged to consider transforming pre-16 education.
The plan also raises the likelihood of changes to curriculum and teaching practice.
Education minister Jane Hutt said: "There is urgency in the need for us to modernise our learning-delivery system across Wales so that it works more efficiently and effectively."
The new strategy builds on work carried out over the past year to transform post-16 education.
It asked local authorities to come up with proposals to reorganise school and college provision to improve choices for learners and reduce duplication of courses.
But at the same time, a slew of significant policy developments and strategic initiatives were taking place, including the introduction of the vocationally led 14-19 courses.
Schools were having to contend with changes to the school curriculum and qualifications system, most notably the play-led foundation phase and the skills-led Welsh Baccalaureate. And more new policies are on the horizon, including the Welsh-medium strategy and an increased focus on eight-14 education.
All of these developments will now be included in the new transformation programme.
Deputy Minister for Skills John Griffiths, who launched the initiative in Cardiff, said: "Transformation on this scale will require the whole education and training community to work together.
"The result will be improved learning opportunities for children, young people and adults across Wales.
"We have come a long way in the last year, but we are still only at the start of our journey."
Rebecca Williams, policy officer for Welsh-medium teaching union UCAC, said: "We always knew this agenda was about much more than post-16 reform, so this announcement is not a particular surprise.
"But what is significant is the scale, and it remains to be seen whether such an all-sector transformation can succeed."
ASCL Cymru Secretary Gareth Jones said: "Although the report shows what issues need to be addressed, it's going to take a lot more than this to do that.
"It's early days and we need to have much more detail. But I'm pleased the report says people in local areas will be able to make their own decisions, it's essential in Wales where there is so much regional context and diversity."
The government expects 60 per cent of post-16 schemes to be implemented by September 2010, and the remainder by September 2011.
Several local authorities are planning to roll out secondary school reorganisation at the same time as their post-16 changes, an approach which the government has welcomed.