This week's spending review may have looked like electioneering to the political pundits. But Gordon Brown's promise to give more of the nation's poorest children a better start in life represents real social progress. The Chancellor's fatherly and fiscal instincts are to invest in early-years services known to improve health, educational attainment and employment and to reduce crime. The Government also recognised that it is in primary schools that spending must be boosted most if the workforce agreement is to succeed. However, it will be some time before we know whether the Chancellor's higher-than-expected block grant to Wales will meet schools' myriad funding needs.
The Welsh Assembly will not announce how the extra money is to be allocated until the draft budget for 2005-6 is published in the autumn. But Ms Davidson (see opposite) says the Assembly government is committed to improving the transparency of the school funding system and is prepared to give the teacher unions' criticisms of the current arrangements another hearing. There is therefore increased reason to hope that the correct proportion of Mr Brown's largess will find its way into all schools next year.