Policy, see Wales

30th May 2003 at 01:00
Education reference books used to include a throwaway line that infuriated Welsh nationalists: "For Wales, see England". Not any more.

The Welsh education system is now fundamentally different from England's (Analysis, page 20). No school performance tables, no testing at seven, and definitely no specialist schools.

These are, of course, dangerously heretical ideas. And, to the consternation of some Blairite policy wonks, they appear to be succeeding.

It would be heartening to learn that Charles Clarke softened his tough-minded views on primary tests and targets (TES, May 23) because of the example set by the Welsh. But, in truth, it was opposition from England's teachers that caused that rethink.

However, if the more egalitarian approach adopted by Wales's education minister, Jane Davidson, continues to pay dividends, Westminster will come under pressure to adopt some of Cardiff's policies. That won't come naturally to the English, but it may be politically prudent.

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