The First Decade List According to Key Subject Areas





Youth & Lifelong Learning

Older People

The Economy

Health and Social Care

Social Justice

Equality and Human Rights





Sport and Culture


The Welsh Language

Welsh Law

Wales and the World

Introduction to the 'What They've Done For Us'  list 



Youth and Lifelong Learning

The First Decade

Welcome to Aled Edwards' "What They've Done For Us" Youth and Lifelong Learning list. Written a little in the style of Monty Python's Life of Brian "What have the Romans done for us?"  the list aims to provide a reliable record of the distinctive Welsh policies brought about by devolution (1999-2009). Beyond underlining the distinctiveness of Welsh policies no substantive attempt is made here to evaluate the performance of Welsh Assembly Governments or to list the policies brought about by other UK legislatures but not adopted in Wales. The dates in brackets normally indicate when the development was announced by the Welsh Assembly Government through a press release.

 Third Assembly 2007 - 2009

Marked the launch of a unique £16 million initiative aimed at helping thousands of people across Wales improve their chances of finding a job. The Pink Ladies scheme was aimed at young women learning new skills in the construction industry. (April 2009).
bullet Responsibility and funding for prisoner learning in Wales were transferred from the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills to the Welsh Assembly Government.  For 2009 -2010 the Assembly Government received £2.65 million to provide this service. (April 2009).
bullet Wales’ Learning and Skills Measure received the support of the Assembly to proceed to its final stage of approval from the Privy Council. (March 2009).
bullet Launched a £7million Convergence initiative to prevent thousands of disadvantaged youngsters from dropping out of school and becoming economically inactive across the Heads of the Valleys. Pre-VENT was given the go ahead for almost £4 million from the Convergence European Social Fund to tackle the causes of youngsters who find it difficult to learn and are at risk of leaving school without qualifications or the skills to find a job. (February 2009).
bullet Announced a £68milion funding package for apprenticeships and ProAct to support businesses. ProAct was set up to assist employers and employees to deal with a fall-off in orders and provides an alternative to redundancy by way of short time working and retraining during the days not being worked. (January 2009).
bullet It was announced that the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification, which aimed to produce better undergraduates and recruits, had been extended and would be available to 30,000 learners across Wales. (December 2008).
bullet Plans to expand and improve transport arrangements for pupils and students across Wales, through the the The Learner Travel Measure, including an all-Wales behaviour code, received Royal Approval. (December 2008).
bullet Announced a £49 million initiative to help around 30,000 young people in Wales improve their career opportunities. The Reach the Heights projects were awarded £27 million from the European Social Fund. (March 2009).Invited schools, colleges and learning providers across Wales to apply to join the third phase of roll-out of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification at post 16 Intermediate and Advanced level active from September 2009. (September 2008).

Announced £70 million for a three year project which aimed to raise the skills of the workforce in Wales' most deprived areas. It was hoped that he new Modern Apprenticeship World Class Skills project would help more than 22,500 people raise their skill levels - with more than 14,000 training places made possible thanks to £40 million of European funding. (June 2008).


Launched Routes to Progress, the Sector Skills agreement for the Passenger Transport industry in Wales. (March 2008).


Signed Memoranda of Understanding with Tuscany and Catalonia in support of a mobility programme designed to allow students from Wales to participate in international training placements in their areas of study. (June 2008).


Launched Wales’ School Effectiveness Framework. Specially trained head teachers or local authority school improvement professionals known as “associates” were released for 25% of their time to work with participating schools.   (February 2008).


Announced that the Genesis Wales project had been underwritten. The project enables hard to reach, economically inactive parents to access learning, training and work opportunities by providing guidance and free childcare. (January 2008).


The Welsh Assembly Government’s skills and employment strategy, Skills that Work for Wales, was launched for consultation. The strategy sets out a direction for change to drive up higher level skills and address the needs of businesses. (January 2008).


Welcomed Sir Adrian Webb's independent review of Further Education in Wales. (December 2008).


Announced plans for a new Welsh Skills and Employment Strategy. (July 2007).

Second Assembly 2003 - 2007

bullet Launched The Learning Country: Vision into Action, the Welsh Assembly Government's strategic plan for education, lifelong learning and skills in Wales until 2010. (October 2006).
Launched the School Councils web-site. Wales was the first country to pass legislation making School Councils statutory. (October 2006).
bullet Announced that nearly 400 mineworkers were set to benefit from a skills package designed to ensure they could move to high quality alternative jobs as their pit closed down. (August 2006).
bullet Launched the 14-19 Learning Pathways Guidance II, Action Plan and accompanying DVD at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay. (May 2006).
bullet Claimed that the 14-19 Learning Pathways Action Plan would transform the education and training opportunities available to young people. (March 2006).
bullet Gave the go ahead to a scheme which would enable parents that use nannies in Wales to access tax credits or childcare vouchers. The Childcare Strategy Childcare is for Children, published in November 2005, addressed the issue and gave the commitment to finding a way forward which takes advantage of the tax opportunities but ensures that appropriate safeguard’s are in place and "nannies" are appropriately qualified. (March 2006).
bullet Launched a consultation on the delegation of the power to make proposals for the reorganisation of 16-19 provision to Local Authorities. The consultation sought views on whether ELWa’s current powers to bring forward proposals in relation to the organisation of 16-19 provision, should be delegated to Local Authorities, who would be tasked with building a local consensus around a strategy for such provision in and between their respective areas. (March 2006).
bullet Launched a consultation on the delegation of the power to make proposals for the reorganisation of 16-19 provision to Local Authorities. The consultation sought views on whether ELWa’s current powers to bring forward proposals in relation to the organisation of 16-19 provision, should be delegated to Local Authorities, who would be tasked with building a local consensus around a strategy for such provision in and between their respective areas. (March 2006).
bullet Took a historic step forward when it agreed another "Wales only" initiative to enable students to make the best of their secondary school experience. Regulations agreed  (Tuesday 28 February). required a secondary school and its feeder primaries to produce a joint transition plan for the movement of pupils from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3.  (February 2006).
bullet Published, for consultation, the draft guidance "Consultation document on Teaching Drama: Guidance on Safeguarding Children and Child Protection for Managers and Drama Teachers". The Children’s Commissioner for Wales, in his Clywch Report into allegations of child sexual abuse, recommended that the Welsh Assembly Government, in partnership with ACCAC and the education departments and qualifying curriculum and assessment authorities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England should publish practice guidance for teaching and examining drama within two years of the publication of his report. (February 2006).
bullet Offered Wales' support for the UK's bid to host the prestigious WorldSkills competition in 2011. (January 2006).
bullet Young people from across Europe received a gift of 32 acres of rainforest in Ecuador as their gift from the Welsh Assembly Government for attending the UK Presidency EU Youth Event which took  place in Cardiff (October 2005).
bullet Announced incentives for trainee postgraduate (PGCE) school teachers in Wales. The incentives aimed to continue to attract some of the best graduates into teaching. Trainees in priority secondary subjects would be eligible for more money and, for the first time, there would be extra incentives for music and RE trainees. (September 2005).
bullet Welcomed statistics that show an encouraging take up of Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) in Wales. EMAs were introduced in Wales for the first time in 2004/05. The scheme aimed to provide an incentive for students from lower income families to remain and continue in full time education. (September 2005).
bullet Welcomed the creation of a Wales Committee of UK UNESCO. (August 2005).
bullet Hailed the agreement on the new tuition fees and student support package as an historic day for Wales. From 2007/08 Welsh HEIs would be given the flexibility to charge fees of up to £3,000 - £1,800 more than the existing £1,200 fixed fee. Ensuring that institutions operate on a level playing field with England. Welsh domiciled HE students studying in Wales will be eligible for a £1,800 fee grant which offsets entirely the additional fees which those students would otherwise be charged. (June 2005).
bullet Announced that Wales would have its first Vocational Skills Champion. (May 2005).
bullet Published a detailed prospectus showing new arrangements for supporting youth work and youth support services in Wales. (May 2005).
bullet Developed Want2Work, a joint community-based initiative with Jobcentre Plus Wales, supported by ELWa and part funded through ESF, to give people claiming Incapacity Benefit (IB)., who want to work, the help and support they need to find employment. Operational since early 2005, Want2Work initially targeted a number of wards with significantly high levels of IB claimants within three local authority areas in Wales in Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot and Cardiff. (May 2005).
bullet Not introduced the requirement for LEAs, when they identify a need for a new secondary school, to advertise and invite competitive bids from alternative providers. (Introduced in England by the Education Act 2000 and extended in Education Act 2005).
bullet Figures released in October 2004 showed that a total of 22,780 students applied for Assembly Learning Grants (ALGs) during the previous academic year 2003/04, this was 13 per cent higher than the number received in the ALG’s first year, 2002/03. The number of successful applications 20,590 (90 percent of applications) was 9 percent higher than the total awarded during academic year 2002/03. The largest increase in successful applications was for full time further education students, 5000 compared with 3,790 awarded during 2002/03.
bullet The Learning Pathways 14-19 Guidance was published. (September 2004).
bullet Announced that the pilot scheme providing £6,000 bursaries for students enrolling on full-time PGCE  courses would be extended for a further two academic years. The scheme helps attract quality, highly committed students to train and teach in Wales. (June 2004).
bullet Announcement that following the Daugherty Report tests for 11 and 14 year olds to be scrapped by 2006. (May 2004).
bullet Welcomed the Higher Education Act 2004 which received Royal Assent in July 2004. The Act transferred from the Department for Education and Skills powers over the student support and tuition fee regime in Wales. These put the Assembly on the same statutory basis as the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland (July 2004).
bullet Published The Learning Pathways 14-19 Guidance , with its six key elements following extensive period of consultation across Wales involving partners from education, training and employment and the young people themselves. Supported the establishment of 14-19 networks across Wales and take forward Learning Pathways. (July 2004).
bullet Young Carer training packs were distributed amongst schools across Wales thanks to the Welsh Assembly Government's Young Carers' Advisory Panel. (July 2004).
bullet Launched a new radically redesigned Funky Dragon website featuring a host of new opportunities and resources. (June 2004).
bullet Announced that the pilot scheme for students enrolling on PGCE Further Education courses would be extended for a further two academic years. The scheme helps attract quality, highly committed students to train and teach in Wales. (June 2004).
bullet Approved  £100,000 match funding to a Leonardo da Vinci mobility project to enable 100 young people from across Wales to participate in a 15 week language and work experience programme at Llangollen. (June 2004).
bullet Launched the consultation document Educational Services for Children and Young People with Visual Impairment. (June 2004).
bullet Supported the first International Autism Conference to be held in Wales. (May 2004).
bullet Announced that NHS funded students in Wales are to benefit from a new childcare allowance to help with their childcare costs during their studies. Under the scheme up to 85 per cent of childcare costs could be met, helping approximately 700 – 800 students a year in Wales. (May 2004).
bullet Welcomed the findings of the Careers Wales Review, an independent study into the operation of the first three years of Careers Wales. (April 2004).
bullet Established the Wales Employment Advisory panel, which plays an important role in helping the Welsh Assembly Government influence the shape of the UK Government's Welfare to Work programmes to best meet the needs of the people and communities of Wales, and to examine and promote measures to raise economic activity throughout Wales. (March 2004).
bullet Announced that 11 new projects in the SME and Voluntary Sector in Wales were to receive nearly £100k in the previous round of the Work life Balance Challenge Fund. The Fund aimed to encourage small businesses and voluntary organisations to develop and test new approaches that help their employees balance their work and their home lives. (March 2004).
bullet Announced 17 new projects would receive nearly £1.2 million in the latest round of the Wales Union Learning Fund. The Fund aims to encourage and support learning in the workplace. It recognises the important role of trades unions working in partnership with employers, to improve the skills of the workforce. (March 2004).
bullet Launched the first Wales only regulations covering school exclusion procedures. These introduced the right for pupils aged 11 to 16 to appeal against their own exclusion. (January 2004).
bullet Announced that Key Skills Qualifications in Wales would no longer need external tests and that from September 2004 the qualifications will be assessed solely by a portfolio of evidence of candidates ability to apply the skill. (December 2003).
bullet Announced that all 22 local education authorities had  taken part in the first national truancy sweep in Wales. Performing a national sweep was one of the 16 recommendations put forward in the report by the Task and Finish Group set-up by the Welsh Assembly Government to look at non-attendance at school. (October 2003).
bullet Launched a new website to give parents information on all aspects of education in Wales. (September 2003).
bullet Launched Respecting Others, the Welsh Assembly Government’s guidance on tackling bullying in schools. (September 2003).
bullet Published its response to Lord Laming’s report of the Victoria Climbié Inquiry. (September 2003).
bullet In 2001, Wales became one of the founder members of the European Association of Regional and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL). EARLALL is a network of 17 European regions that work in partnership on the development of new policies, strategies and methods for lifelong learning.  (September 2003).
bullet Young disabled people from across the globe gathered in Swansea to raise awareness of the rights of disabled people and to lobby for change in civil rights legislation. The First International Congress for Young Disabled People brought to Wales 100 young disabled people, aged between 12 and 25, and from more than 30 countries – from Afghanistan to Vietnam. The Welsh Assembly Government contributed £125,000 to fund the congress with additional funding from the business and voluntary sectors. (July 2003).
bullet Launched the Welsh Assembly Government’s national Free Swimming for Children and Young People pilot scheme. The national scheme, funded by the Assembly Government and operated by local authorities and the Welsh Amateur Swimming Association, was the first of its kind anywhere in Europe. (July 2003).
bullet Helped change UK Government's approach to children's issues. When Margaret Hodge was appointed the new Westminster Minister for Children, BBC News Online reported: "The government has been under pressure to create a post aimed at addressing children's issues after the Welsh Assembly created a similar position." (June 2003).

First Assembly 1999 - 2003

bullet The Aimhigher Wales roadshow, which was launched in March 2003, specifically targeted 13-14 year olds in disadvantaged communities. Aimhigher Wales built in a distinctive way on the success of the Aimhigher campaign launched in England in January 2002. (March 2003).
bullet Announced changes in the application of National Minimum Standards for Care Homes for Younger Adults in Wales. (January 2003).
bullet Announced that Work Related Education would be made a part of the Basic Curriculum for pupils aged 14-16. (October 2002).
bullet Named the schools and colleges, that would pilot the distinctive Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification as the first ever distinctive programme for 16-19 year olds in Wales. (April 2002).
bullet Highlighted that Wales offers free prescriptions for 16 to 25 year olds who usually have more difficulty paying as they are more often than not in education or an a lower income than average. (March 2002).
bullet Published the paving document The Learning Country which rejected specialists schools and a significant increase in faith schools, and reaffirmed a commitment to the ethos of the comprehensive system. (September 2001).
bullet Scrapped secondary school league tables. (July 2001).
bullet Launched a Modern Skills Diploma for Adults. (June 2001).
bullet Raised the age limit for Modern Apprenticeships beyond 25 yrs. (June 2001).
bullet Passed legislation extending careers education to all pupils and students aged 16-19 attending most maintained schools, pupil referral units and further education institutions. (May 2001).
bullet Launched the Modern Foreign Languages Strategy- Learning Counts. (April 2002).
bullet Launched the Skills and Employment Action Plan. (February 2002).
bullet Launched the student Assembly Learning Grant (ALGs) in 2002  which provides extra money for students from low-income families when undertaking further education or higher education.  It was announced in March 2004 that the number of successful applications was 20,200 (90 per cent of applications). This was an increase of 15 per cent increase from February 2003 and 7 per cent higher than the total in 2002/03. 72 per cent of successful applications were from higher education students and 28 per cent from further education students. 72 per cent of the successful applicants were studying at institutions in Wales and 22 percent in England.
bullet Launched the distinctive ten year Strategy for Higher Education- Reaching Higher (March 2002).
bullet Set up Careers Wales as a national all-age guidance service unique in the UK  bringing together six careers companies across Wales under one name. (April 2001).
bullet Launched Elwa (Education and Learning Wales). (April 2001).
bullet Launched the Basic Skills Strategy. (2001).
bullet Announced and established Key Skills Support Programme Cymru. (November 2000).
bullet Published Extending Entitlement. It set out a detailed agenda for developing the Assembly's future youth policies, building on existing links between the Assembly, local authorities, the voluntary youth sector, schools and health services. (October 2000).
bullet Implemented a revised National Curriculum for Wales - the first National Curriculum designed wholly in Wales and for Wales from September 2000.
bullet Implemented revised post 16 qualifications, including AS levels, from September 2000.
bullet Successfully lobbied Westminster to ensure that threshold assessors in Wales are employed by Local Education Authorities. In England private companies are used to assess teachers for performance related pay.  In Wales, the money is given to LEAs thus keeping any profit within the education sector. (March 2000).
bullet Announced the creation of  the General Teaching Council for Wales. The General Teaching Council for Wales is the independent, self-regulating body for the teaching profession in Wales. Through the Council, teachers themselves are able to regulate entry into the profession, similar to the legal and medical professions and their representative bodies. (November 1999).
bullet Placed a strong political marker by opposing proposals, following the publication of New Arrangements for Young People Living in and Leaving Care, to withdraw benefits from young people aged 16-18 who leave care. (July 1999).