Laptops likely in historic truce

29th June 2007 at 01:00
MAJOR CONCESSIONS in Welsh education policy were made this week as Labour agreed to share power with Plaid Cymru under a coalition government.

The historic pact was sealed in principle between the previous political enemies and paves the way for some of Plaid's manifesto pledges - including a pilot scheme giving free laptops to pupils - to go ahead.

Other joint educational aims outlined in the document One Wales, published on Wednesday as TES Cymru went to press, are:

* radical reductions in class sizes for three to seven-year-olds;

* a review of whether the free school meals indicator is the best way to measure attainment;

* an assessment of the impact of secondary school funding on developments in the 14-19 curriculum;

* the promise of more resources for physical education;

* the promise of funding for upgrading school buildings;

* pilot schemes for Saturday and summer schools in sport, music and the arts.

Reforming education funding in Wales was another key educational aim outlined in the document.

Labour managed to keep some of its other initiatives that have come under attack previously on the agenda, including the free breakfast scheme. But how popular the laptop initiative will be is in the balance after one of Wales's leading headteachers spoke out against it.

Writing in TES Cymru earlier this month (June 15), Brian Lightman, head of St Cyres comprehensive in Vale of Glamorgan, claimed the scheme was nothing more than "headline grabbing".

Both parties will now put the new power-sharing agenda, including moves towards a full Welsh parliament and grants for first-time house buyers, before special conferences to be held next week.

Labour was left with 26 seats after the May 3 elections, five short of an absolute majority in the 60-member Assembly. Talks of a rainbow coalition between Plaid, the Lib Dems and the Tories have been on the cards since then.

Opposition leaders greeted the announcement with disappointment. The news means the Assembly government will have Plaid ministers for the first time .

Mr Rhodri Morgan, who will remain First Minister, said: "I am delighted that we can provide a stable and progressive government for the people of Wales."

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