SINCE the arrival of devolution a decade ago, there is much to be proud of in the way that education has developed in Wales. The Foundation Phase for our youngest children and the Welsh Baccalaureate developed for our 14 to 19-year-olds are just two examples of the distinctive agenda that has emerged in Wales and that has attracted international attention.
Of course, not everything in the educational garden in Wales is rosy!
Although there has been considerable improvement in the achievement of our schools, as the outcomes of the Programme for International Student Assessment in 2007 revealed, Wales does not compare favourably overall with many other countries. In particular, a decade of devolution has not produced solutions to the long-established association that exists in Wales between being born into poverty and low levels of educational achievement.
It is precisely these challenges that the School Effectiveness Framework has been developed to overcome.
It has been piloted in nearly 100 schools across Wales over the past year and, following the announcement this week, it will now be scaled up so that in due course all schools and local authorities become involved.
While the SEF draws upon the best professional practice and research that we have on education from around the world, it represents a distinctly Welsh way of bringing about major educational change. It eschews the "command and control" techniques associated with repeated testing of students, league tables, "naming and shaming", "super-heads", lists of schools that will be closed if improvement cannot be achieved, privately-funded academies and seemingly endless top-down strategies.
By contrast the SEF asserts the collective responsibility of all involved in the education system for improving student, school and local authority performance. As such it can be seen to be more in sympathy with the collaborative and communitarian spirit that is at the core of the …