Education in Wales: time for some change

English: School bus seats, photographed from b...
Where are we going on this bus

Last week the BBC reported in Wales:

“First Minister Carwyn Jones has told BBC Wales he thinks some councils are incapable of improving education in their area.

He said that with six local education authorities (LEAs) in special measures it is impossible to have faith in the delivery of education across Wales.
Mr Jones argued it gives further urgency to the need to cut the number of councils from the current 22.”

But hang on just a minute: where’s the logic in that?

Is there a suggestion that the more councils you have the more will go into special measures? Or is this a case that those responsible for overseeing the performance of councils can’t cope with 22? Or is this just a bit more smoke into the fog of the argument about local government reorganisation in Wales?

Whatever it is, it lacks logical argument as in truth there is no relationship whatsoever between the number of councils and the number that are on the naughty step when it comes to delivering education.

Where then is the problem? My suggestion here is that the problems we currently have are structural, we are too concerned about maintaining the council governance structures that have been in place for some time and yet are still failing to deliver.

If the day came when I was in charge (and that just will never happen) but if it did, I’d be more interested in WHAT had to be done and by WHO rather than WHERE.

By this I mean that I would not need to understand the boundary between Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire to help me think about education in west Wales. I’d worry more about WHAT needed to be taught and HOW in order to achieve the standards we should aspire to.

Lines on a map would be the least of my worries. Apart from worrying about WHO will do the work that is. For if I were in charge for the day, and responsible – no, accountable – for the quality of education in Wales, then I’d most certainly want control over its delivery.

It makes no sense whatever to me for policy to hand over delivery responsibility to 22 different agents, with differing political agenda as well as varying levels of capability.

If I were the Minister for Education, I’d want the best possible Director of Education for Wales to stand alongside me to run a national service.

Then we could develop national standards, deliver common policies and have clear national achievement measures. And if WE failed then the responsibility would be mine (although I might share it a little with the National Director).

Of course the problem with this approach is that the Minister would then be exposed and might just be held accountable. I wonder what’s holding us back from a radical reform for change?


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