A dubious formula for funding

11th May 2007 at 01:00
It is not often that every education union based in Wales comes together as a united force (see page 1). The funding of our schools, or lack of it, appears to have achieved this. No one is in any doubt that the Barnett formula needs to be investigated.

There are deep suspicions that schools - and indeed all public services - in Wales are missing out. Unions say that if their hunches are right the formula will be unfair and deny children in Wales an adequate level of funding compared with their peers in England. And, as other stories in TES Cymru reveal this week, directors of education are also up in arms over the supposed raw deal from Barnett (see page 5). The plot thickens.

As heads worry about a new term with slower spending increases since devolution and a rapid-fire pace of reform, our politicians seem more worried about whom they can work with. Before TES Cymru went to press, the speculation about who could share power with whom had already started.

Would it be the Lib Dems, or could the only enemy, Plaid Cymru, be given the nod? The Tories appeared to be an absolute no-no. This will probably drag on for the next few weeks as more mud-slinging and wounded pride come to air.

Meanwhile, just over the water, a power-sharing deal that no one believed possible has come to pass, Bitter rivals Ian Paisley, of the Democratic Unionist Party, and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness buried the hatchet and took office as First Minister and deputy First Minister respectively in an historic day at Stormont.

It is an unlikely partnership, based on the common good of the people they want to serve, not the hostilities they probably both still feel. Let's hope this partnership does work for the many casualties of "the Troubles".

The test for our politicians now in Wales, as in Northern Ireland, is whether or not they can drop the baggage and work together to ensure we get a fair deal. There's a lot at stake in Wales - especially in our classrooms and hospital wards.

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