Here is (some of) the news...

8th April 2005 at 01:00
As the general election looms, one key participant needs to draw up an education manifesto for Wales: the BBC. Its London-based news and current affairs output devotes about the same amount of attention to Wales as to the educational policies of the Channel Islands.

This attitude has two aspects. First, major educational innovations in Wales are ignored. For example, as a TES Cymru reader, can you recall any prime-time BBC coverage of the Welsh Assembly government's foundation phase reform or the Welsh bac?

The second problem relates to the Blair government's policies for England.

The BBC often reports a Department for Education and Skills policy change as if it also applies to Wales and Scotland.

A blatant example came last summer when Labour announced that most comprehensives would become specialist schools. But whether you were in Llandrindod Wells or in Tunbridge Wells, you were left with the impression that comprehensives were to be swept away across the UK, whereas the change applied only to England.

Since the 2001 general election, the Welsh Assembly government has been developing education policies quite different from those pursued in England. Thus when licence-payers in any part of the UK listen to such BBC programmes as Today, they are entitled to know that the Welsh Assembly government has rejected specialist schools. Similarly, the Assembly's foundation-phase reform merits coverage as an internationally-important initiative on early-years education.

By such neglect the BBC is helping to create new stereotypes about Wales.

For example, it suits New Labour to cultivate the image of a Blairite educational revolution taking England's schools to world-class standards, while beyond the Severn is a benighted country sunk in Old Labourism: impervious to modernisation, and indifferent to choice.

The election presents a real challenge for the BBC to reflect properly the educational diversity and vibrancy created by devolved government. In the 21st century, we really do not need a new version of "For Wales, see England" purveyed by the world's greatest news broadcasting organisation.

Paul Jeremy is a retired teacher

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