The General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW) has called for an overhaul of the way junior teachers are prepared at the start of their careers.

In a new policy document, Wales’ largest teaching watchdog maintains that better teacher support will help set the foundations for better educational attainment.

The results of Pisa, an international student assessment last year, showed Welsh teenagers languishing below their European counterparts in all core subjects.

More recently, a damning report by education inspectorate Estyn found 40% of children entering secondary school had a reading age below their chronological age.

The GTCW has called on whoever forms the next Assembly Government to give raising the quality of professional development for teachers top priority.

It believes that induction training in the classroom needs to build upon, rather than repeat what new teachers have already learned during their initial training course, which commonly includes the postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE).

“The development activity they undertake should be rigorously scrutinised so we are sure it is of value to them and their pupils,” said Ms Jardine, a practising teacher in Cardiff.

“Teachers and schools need to be confident that any early professional development opportunities are properly planned and quality assured so that the best outcomes for all are achieved. We acknowledge that improving teacher training is not the only factor that will improve Wales’ standing in international rankings such as the Pisa survey.

“However, research evidence does indicate that one of the features of those countries which do perform well is a coherent and supportive structure for teachers in the early part of their career.”

The GTCW said it supports plans by Education Minister Leighton Andrews to revise initial teacher training so it becomes a two-year masters course with more classroom practice.

But it says the change should be part of wide-ranging reforms which would see the embedding of consistent professional development at all stages of a teacher’s career.