The long awaited and much discussed - in political circles anyway - PISA results came out today, and not unexpectedly Wales has fallen further down the world rankings.
As reported by the BBC
'Wales has fallen behind the rest of the UK significantly in reading, maths and science for the third time, an international study has shown.
The tests in science, maths, and reading were taken by 500,000 15-year-olds in 65 countries.'
In maths Wales fell three places to 43rd, in reading we rank 41 down from 38, whilst in science there has been a drop of 6 places leaving us joint 36th.
The reaction from the Welsh Labour Government has been less than satisfactory.
Speaking to Wales Online Education Minister Huw Lewis said the scores "present no surprise" and that
"'everybody working in and around the Welsh education sector needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror".
He added: "The Pisa results are stark and the message is very clear, we must improve educational attainment and standards right across the board. There are systemic weaknesses in the education system and in response we are pursuing a relentless drive to raise standards and achieve a positive change in performance in the school sector. We do not underestimate the gravity of these results. We are working tirelessly to raise standards."
The First Minister was left with a not insignificant amount of egg on his face by the announcement, as despite the comments of his Minister for Education he had steadfastly insisted that there would be improvement.
Just two months ago in response to questioning from Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams he said:
""I expect to see an improvement in our PISA results in December. If you see what we have done, as a Government […] you will understand why I believe that we are making that improvement."
Yet the Head of PISA had warned months ago, under the regime of previous Education Minister and Rhondda AM Leighton Andrews, that the Welsh Labour Government's targets were unrealistic.
It is yet another example of how the Welsh Labour Government are letting down the people of this country. Labour have been in control of the education system in Wales one way or another for the past 16 years. They have failed a whole generation of pupils and belied their manifesto commitment to stand up for education.
Despite their failure the Labour First Minister today was bullish and dismissive in his attitude to questions from opposition leaders. The PISA results, he said, were 'just the results of a particular set of tests' and were not a reflection of the education system as a whole.
He may wish to explain in that case why we lag behind our colleagues over the border in other areas too, such as GCSE and A level results. This Labour Government needs to get its act together before it ruins the future prospects of any more children in Wales.
RCT Welsh Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager