She's great - but who is she?

28th May 2004 at 01:00
Her teaching background earned her some street cred with the profession when she started as education and lifelong learning minister almost four years ago.

Abolishing performance tables and ending national tests for seven-year-olds has endeared her to the unions - on both sides of the Severn.

But despite visiting hundreds of schools, Jane Davidson has failed to make much of an impression on a key part of her electorate - parents.

Only 12 per cent of parents quizzed by TES Cymru could name the apparently high-profile education minister. Ms Davidson, though, fared better than most of her fellow cabinet members.

Half of parents, including 65 per cent of fathers, could name first minister Rhodri Morgan, and 14 per cent Jane Hutt, the health minister.

But the remaining Assembly ministers all scored 5 per cent or less, with Sue Essex, responsible for local government and public services, bringing up the rear with 1 per cent.

Union officials expressed surprise. Geraint Davies, secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers Cymru, said:

"Jane Davidson has been out and about, she's travelled widely within Wales and visited a large number of schools. But it's not the name that's important, it's the policies being put forward."

Maybe that's what counts with parents. Only 12 per cent could name her, but two-thirds thought she was doing a satisfactory or better job.

The minister is understood to be pleased with that verdict. But the low recognition rates should be a concern for the whole Assembly, according to her opposition shadow, Janet Ryder.

The Plaid Cymru education spokeswoman said: "It's not surprising that some of the most well-known ministers are in health and education - it relates to the amount of media coverage. But I would hope people would take a little more interest in politics."

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