Our vision for our children

What is Plaid's vision for our children and our education system?

Plaid believes that the lack of childcare is one of the biggest barriers to employment and Plaid is determined to provide affordable and high-quality childcare for every family in Wales. We are committed to an early years' curriculum – the Foundation Phase – which emphasises learning through play, and we call for a study into the feasibility of providing every infant school child in Wales with free school meals.

Plaid calls for a review of the National Curriculum for Wales to consider the subjects and methods through which they are taught. We support the introduction of a compulsory modern foreign language GCSE in secondary schools and the teaching of modern foreign languages in primary schools. We will look at ways to strengthen the teaching of Welsh history and culture.

We will continue to oppose foundation schools, academies and free schools, which lack public accountability and in many cases have poor staffing practices, including lack of union recognition and weaker conditions of service for staff, as well as introducing the private sector into our education system.

We support the government's National Welsh Medium Education Strategy, which will be published shortly. We strongly believe that every child in Wales has the right to education in the Welsh language, including pupils with Special Educational Needs. However, we will continue to push for strengthened targets. We also support plans for the Welsh-language Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol to have an independent stream of funding and an independent student register.

We will commission advocacy services for children and young people from third sector providers nationally to ensure that children and young people can be confident that their advocacy services are truly independent of local service providers. We will aim to roll out a universal service accessible to any child or young person who needs it, and will give priority to services for the most vulnerable. We will review the National Service Framework for Children and Young People. We will develop intelligent targets that measure service user experience and outcome, not just process.

We will review the Child Poverty Strategy to ensure maximum effectiveness. Working with the Third Sector we will ensure that there are effective local benefits uptake schemes in all local authority areas and that these schemes focus on minimising child poverty. We will lobby the Westminster government for changes to the tax and benefit systems.

We will give priority to child protection and we will work to transform the life chances of looked-after children. We will work with local children and young people's partnerships and the third sector to maintain and enhance the focus on early intervention. We will review the work of Local Safeguarding Children Boards and take the necessary steps to maximise their effectiveness. We will legislate to raise the age at which local authorities cease to be responsible for a looked after young person to 25. We will set new ambitious targets for the educational achievement of looked after children.

Working with foster carers, local authorities, the Third Sector and with children and young people we will develop a National Set of Terms and Conditions for Foster Carers, recognising them as a full professional part of the children's workforce. We will review the balance of provision for looked after children between foster care and residential care to ensure that the right mix of provision is available to meet the needs of all looked after children and young people.

We will seek the devolution of the Children and Family courts system. In the meantime we will ensure that CAFCASS works from a Children's Rights perspective. We will ensure that CAFCASS has sufficient resource to enable workers to make a full and thorough investigation of each child's individual circumstances. We will ensure that Welsh-speaking families always have a Welsh speaking CAFCASS officer, and that the Family Court cases can be heard in Welsh.

Through our Anti Violence Against Women Strategy we will ensure that children and young people have access to education and information that challenges the damaging gender stereotypes that underlie violence against women. We will ensure that children who have been witnesses to or victims of domestic abuse have the support they need. Specifically we will work to ensure that there is adequate provision for children's workers in domestic abuse refuges.

We will retain the post of Children's Commissioner in Wales and ensure that the Commissioner's Office is properly resourced. We will legislate to enhance the Commissioner's statutory powers. We will support the retention of the Children and Young People's Committee in the Assembly.

We want to develop and enhance the Welsh Baccalaureate. In government, we are taking forward 14-19 Learning Pathways and we are rolling out a new Foundation Level Welsh Baccalaureate from the age of 14.

Plaid has welcomed the major independent review into education funding for Wales because we know how important it is that as much of the funding as possible goes to the education frontline and is not wasted on unnecessary bureaucracy. It is vitally important that as much of the education budget as possible goes to the frontline, to schools, colleges and universities. We will call for the Welsh government to look at moving from a per-pupil funding mechanism to a funding model based on the catchment area.

We will campaign for a National Citizenship Service for Wales, a nationwide voluntary scheme in which young people may complete a year of volunteering before leaving school.

Plaid will not support any further increases in tuition fees for our higher education students, and will seek the abolition of tuition fees as and when public finances allow. Yet we know that the question of higher education funding looms large in the face of spending cuts. The Welsh government has introduced new means-tested grants, as well as plans to write off student loan debts of up to £1,500 as part of a scheme to encourage graduates to work in Wales.