It's Five Minutes to Midnight and Reform Is Needed, Says Editor; Wales' 'A Reputation as 'The Land of the Pulled Punch' Was Dealt a Blow at ATLT Cymru's ' Annual Lecture Last Week. Here Union Director Dr Philip Dixon Reviews the Visit of Gerard Kelly, Y Editor of the Timesi Educational Supplement, to Welsh Shores
Byline: Dr Philip Dixon
HAVINGA a style not unlike that of Boris Johnson, where a rapier-like r mind is concealed under a somewhat cuddlier exterior, r Gerard Kelly certainly told it as it was.
Wales'a education system is not as good as we were led to believe and nowhere as good as it should be - and the poorest children are suffering most. In a whistlestop tour of the problems affecting education in Wales, a Mr Kelly noted that we have been hobbled by too little money - the t notorious PS600 funding gap and low rates of delegation; too many local authorities; a lack of focus by previous education ministers to "lay the foundations for a vi-v brant schools sector"; ignorance of data - in stark contrast to the great strides made by the London and City Challenge programmes; and a false patriotism in which any criticism was blithely dismissed as "talking Walesa down".
Arguing that it was now "five minutes to midnight", Mr Kelly urged stakeholders to accept that the reform programme started by Education Minister Leighton Andrews was the only way forward. Anticipating the Hill review, w he argued that "if one local authority is far better at running schools than its neighbour, r give the good the opportunity to manage the poor". He insisted that data was essential and cited the much improved Tower Hamlets as a leader in using data effectively. y Most controversially,y he urged the audience not to dismiss ideas that were linked with UK Education Secretary Michael Gove.
He said Wales a could even learn from England's ' "academy" programme, which had seen more money going to the frontline and had resulted in healthy competition between schools.
This statement drew the most negative response from the audience - but even the questions and disagreements posed were well-argued and were light years away from the "yah boo" responses of many who oppose this flagship policy of both the Conservatives and New Labour. …