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Parents back Welsh reform, says TES poll

More than a third of Welsh parents believe schools have improved since devolution, according to an exclusive survey for The TES.

The poll reveals widespread support for the sweeping reforms introduced in the wake of the split from the English education system in 1999.

Two-thirds (67 per cent) of those questioned rated the performance of Jane Davidson, the Welsh education minister, as satisfactory or better, though just 12 per cent could remember her name.

Since devolution, a new national curriculum for Wales has been introduced, making the study of Welsh compulsory for all pupils up to the age of 16.

Other policies include the phasing out of testing at the end of key stage 1 as well as a new early-years curriculum in which children spend their first two years learning through organised play.

The country has also scrapped the publication of exam results and piloted a new Welsh Baccalaureate.

The TES interviewed 300 parents who have children in primary and secondary schools to assess their views of the reforms. Of those polled, 36 per cent said school standards had improved in the past five years and 45 per cent said they had stayed the same.

Some 12 per cent of respondents said they believe the Welsh education system is now better than the English, 37 per cent said it was the same, and 13 per cent now rate it worse.

Overall, the survey showed support for Ms Davidson, with four out of 10 parents rating her performance "satisfactory" since her appointment in 2000.

A further 21 per cent rated her "good", and 6 per cent "very good".

But differences in funding methods between English and Welsh schools remain a sore point for many parents.

A third of respondents said they believed they were now worse off than schools across the border.

Geraint Davies, secretary of NASUWT Cymru, said: "Jane Davidson has been out and about, she's travelled widely within Wales, and visited a large number of schools. But at the end of the day, it's not the name that is important, it's the policies being put forward."

Brian Rowlands, secretary of the Secondary Heads' Association Cymru, said:

"Standards are improving in Wales. We approve of the direction education policy is going in. The only problem is transparency of funding and money not getting through to schools. We have asked for an independent review group to look into funding."

Better off west of the border? Platform 21

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