Education reform left to May election victors
Major reforms to the structure of education services in Wales will not be taken forward until after next May's Assembly elections, TES Cymru can reveal.
Last week, education minister Leighton Andrews announced the launch of a special taskforce to examine whether education services should be taken out of the hands of Wales' 22 local authorities.
The group, comprised of five experts, will examine which services should be provided nationally, regionally and locally and which should be devolved to schools.
It will run alongside the funding review which is part of the wider effort to cut bureaucracy and move more cash to schools.
The taskforce will report at the end of January, but TES Cymru has learnt that no structural reforms will be considered until after the May elections.
One leading academic said: "There is no guarantee that whoever wins the election will want to take these reforms forward, in which case the whole process will have been a complete waste of time."
Dr Philip Dixon, director of ATL Cymru, said: "I'm concerned that the conclusions will be lost as other issues come to the fore. We would want to see a guarantee that this group's findings will be acted upon as swiftly as possible.
"I'm sure the minister will want to reassure people that the findings of this report won't run into the sand and he will want to look at timescales for the implementation if Labour wins the election."
But Gareth Jones, secretary of ASCL Cymru, said structural change was complex and should not be rushed in before the election.
"There's no way they should take change of that scale forward in such a short space of time," he said.
The taskforce has received widespread support from the education sector, which has expressed concerns about the way in which Wales' 22 local authorities fund and deliver education services.
David Egan, professor of education at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, said: "This is a timely opportunity after ten years of devolution to look at how education is delivered in Wales. That we are moving into a period of tight funding makes it even more sensible, and it should be looking at all options."
David Reynolds, professor of education at Plymouth University, said: "The group will think radically. They know as well as anyone that change needs to happen."
A Welsh Assembly government spokesperson said: "Reforming the structure of education will require a consensus across Wales and possibly legislation.
"There will be no opportunities for legislation before May. The timetable we have put place is to ensure that recommendations can be taken forward in the long term, in a pragmatic way."
- Original headline: Education reform will be left to May election victors