Council chiefs blast initiative deluge

5th March 2010 at 00:00
Schools directors claim schemes are scrapped before evaluation has taken place

The Assembly government has been attacked for overloading schools with initiatives which are then abandoned before they have been properly implemented.

Karl Napieralla, of Neath Port Talbot Council, and Brett Pugh, of Newport Council, both directors of education, said that short-term schemes cause more harm than good.

"`Emperor's new clothes' is a terminal disease and unless we get rid of it we will go down the path of `everything new is wonderful' and we don't evaluate what we do," Dr Pugh told a conference at the National Foundation for Educational Research in Swansea.

"There's evidence to show that when people do their research and put in place policies they do very well.

"It's a matter of looking at what's really important, doing the research, selecting policies and programmes, then implementing and evaluating them.

"We should agree the right plan and stick to it, unless there is a really good reason not to."

Dr Pugh and Mr Napieralla backed the Assembly's school effectiveness framework (SEF), which aims to reduce variations in performance between schools and classes, but called for politicians to remain committed to it.

The policy, which calls for reform in the way that government, LAs and schools work together in a bid to boost attainment, is set to become the key policy for education reform in Wales.

"Embedding SEF will bring us success as long as we don't move on to other pet projects," Mr Napieralla said.

"In Wales we have an initiative, launch it, fund it, it works, but then we move on to something else.

"We need the research to be with us on what works, then we must work on it until we have got the gold standard."

Although the pair did not specify which initiatives their comments were aimed at, they follow concerns about the three-year, pound;40 million Raise (Raising attainment and individual standards in education) programme.

Raise was launched in 2006 to target 20,000 of the most disadvantaged pupils and improve their performance.

But Welsh inspectorate Estyn found that many schools came to rely on the grant and made no plans to make their projects sustainable in the future.

In January, the chief inspector's report said some of the funding had been misspent on pupils who were poor in educational terms rather than socio- economically.

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