Assembly elections to prompt reforms

3rd January 2003 at 00:00
ALL eyes in Wales will be on the result of the Welsh Assembly elections in May.

Teachers and unions hope that the pressure of an upcoming election will convince the Assembly to consider dramatic reforms.

First among these is workload. Unions were dissatisfied with the pound;3 million offered by Jane Davidson, Welsh Assembly minister for education and lifelong learning, for increased administrative support for schools.

They want greater investment, along with guarantees that new Assembly initiatives will not add to existing workload.

Many fear that Welsh schools are not receiving the full government handouts promised by Westminster.

They want money to be allocated directly to schools by the Assembly, rather than through local authority budgets. Meanwhile, the Assembly hopes to court votes by continuing to implement existing strategies.

Consultation on the new 14-19 curriculum, with increased emphasis on vocational and extra-curricular learning, will end on January 20. An action plan will be drawn up in April.

An early years advisory panel will draw up concrete proposals for the Assembly's new, non-academic foundation stage for four-to-seven-year-olds.

And the Assembly will prepare for the formal pilot of the Welsh Baccalaureate in September, when 19 schools will enter their first pupils for the qualification.

The first integrated centres, combining education, childcare and healthcare services under one roof, will open at the beginning of the year.

Intensive Welsh-language courses, allowing pupils to transfer between English-medium primaries and Welsh-medium secondaries may be launched in September.

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