Slim budgets won't make policy work

21st November 2008 at 00:00

There has been a lot rejoicing, but also recrimination, over the controversial funding research undertaken by Professor David Reynolds and published in TES Cymru last week (see page 1).

Heads were happy someone out of political and union circles had also taken up their cause, while horrified at the findings.

Officials were smarting, while dismissing the research and making personal attacks on Professor Reynolds.

Jane Hutt's response intends to give a positive spin on figures her statisticians decided not to challenge, but ultimately ignore. Her response gives out a positive policy message, particularly for the successes of the foundation phase, but is sure to disappoint her new found teaching fans.

As the minister and her officials lick their wounds, TES Cymru would like to make it clear that its intention was never to undermine the brilliant job schools and teachers are doing in helping the Assembly government fulfil their education policies, which, incidentally, have widespread support in the teaching profession.

On the contrary, the intention of our nine-page coverage was to present the research, but also highlight schools that had beaten the financial odds to outperform schools in England and sing the praises of Welsh education policy. Our coverage was balanced and fair. TES Cymru ultimately questioned whether Wales was getting its financial priorities right based on Prof Reynolds's research, but more importantly on the results of our own poll.

There is no glossing over the fact that 90 out of 100 heads say there is not enough money in Wales's schools to make all this wonderful policy work. In comment, we made it clear that Wales is so much richer in policy than England. However, there is no getting away from the fact that heads are saying they can't do it without more money.

TES Cymru makes no apology for commissioning or publishing the findings, or for questioning the government's financial priorities. The future of our nation's children and the cause of our schools and teachers are our main priority.

The teaching profession in Wales was united this week in support of Professor Reynolds's findings and the agreement there is not enough money in Wales's schools. Let's hope their verdict on the research has not fallen on deaf ears.

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