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Certain powers have been devolved from the UK Parliament to the National Assembly for Wales. Education and skills is one of these devolved areas. The Cabinet Secretary for Education has primary policy-making responsibility for education and training, supported by the Minister for Skills and Science and the Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language.
The Welsh Government’s Directorate for Education within the Education and Public Services Group is the policy-making authority for pre-16 education, and the Directorate for Skills, Higher Education and Lifelong Learning within the Economy, Skills and Natural Resources Group has responsibility for post-16 education, including vocational training, skills and school sixth forms.
The publicly funded education system is characterised by a high degree of autonomy at institutional level, but also a high level of accountability. Estyn, Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales, is responsible for inspecting school education, initial teacher training, further education, adult community learning and work-based learning.
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) provides quality assurance services across the UK.
The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) is responsible for regulating the higher education sector in Wales in accordance with provisions contained in the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015 and for distributing Welsh Government funding for higher education, with support for students provided by Student Finance Wales.
The Children, Young People and Education Committee of the National Assembly for Wales examines legislation and holds the Welsh Government to account by scrutinising its expenditure, administration and policy matters, encompassing (but not restricted to): the education, health and well-being of the children and young people of Wales.
Local authorities (LAs) are responsible for planning and providing compulsory education in their geographical areas. They must also support Welsh Ministers in making provision for education and training for young people over compulsory school age (16) and in encouraging participation under the Learning and Skills Act 2000. Other key responsibilities for LAs regarding schools include: school admissions; school improvement; financial administration; promoting high standards and the fulfilment of potential; staffing and staff development; ensuring regular school attendance; support for inclusion, special educational needs and behaviour support; dealing with complaints; school meals; grants and allowances and transport to school. Local authorities are also organised into four regional consortia, primarily to deliver school improvement services, but also to collaborate on a range of other school support services.
The UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS) is is a collaborative forum through which government, the tech community and the third sector work together to create a safe online environment for all, including young people. It is part of the Department for Culture, Media and Society (DCMS), the Department for Education (DfE) and the Home Office. It expands the scope of the previous UK Council for Child Safety. One of its priority areas is online harms experienced by children and young people including cyber bullying and sexual exploitation.
Further education (FE) colleges, which are self-governing corporations, provide further (mainly vocational) education and adult community learning.
Higher education institutions are private bodies that, subject to their degree-awarding powers, are free to design their programmes and awards and to determine the conditions on which they are awarded. They are also responsible for their own staffing, admissions and research.
Other non-governmental stakeholders become involved in policy-making in discrete areas. Employers and their organisations and sector skills councils contribute to policy and practice in apprenticeships and skills. Teachers’ unions and professional associations are concerned with such issues as teaching and learning, assessment, workload and pay and conditions.
The main mechanism for cross-sectoral cooperation is the Cabinet and Committee structure of the Welsh Government. Committees and subcommittees with the required representation of interests, can be established to devise policies or initiatives on cross-cutting matters.
Ad hoc ministerial task forces may also be convened, with the aim of bringing together a wide range of stakeholder perspectives. An example is the Ministerial Supply Model Taskforce, which reported to the Cabinet Secretary for Education in February 2017. Its terms of reference at Annex C show its membership and the range of stakeholders which it was expected to involve.
The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly for Wales examines expenditure and value for money across all departments
Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport. It focuses on the mobility of young people in higher education. The Erasmus+ UK National Agency is a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK and is a main feature of governance and cross-sectoral cooperation of organisations in the English higher education system.