Two countries, different systems

9th June 2006 at 01:00
Like Neil Butler ("Poor relation policy?", TES Cymru, May 26), I do not want to work in an education system which is inferior to England's. But unlike Mr Butler, I do not want to work in one which is only just as good as England's.

I want a system which is better than England's and, indeed, which at least aspires to be the best in the world. This will never happen while pay and conditions are controlled by the Department for Education and Skills in London, and the curriculum and public examinations by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, because between them they have the purse strings to 93 per cent of the money spent on education in Wales.

The devolution of education to Wales is a complete sham as all the major decisions are still taken by Westminster. A government in Cardiff can only tinker around the edges and so a genuinely "Welsh" education policy is still far off.

In his call for uniformity of roles between teachers in Wales and England, Mr Butler fails to recognise that historically access to education in Wales has been a right, not a privilege (Wales has few fee-paying schools compared with England); and communitarian and co-operative, not competitive.

Very few Welsh schools went grant maintained and most of those which did were under the threat of closure, while the prevailing trend now in England is for schools to compete for access to both public and private money.

Mr Butler need not worry about his friend in England being paid more "for exactly the same job" as it will not be the same job.

To the extent that conditions in Wales are already different, we do at least have more freedom to teach because we spend less time on testing.

So come on Neil, use a bit more vision. Look beyond the border to the wider world and you will soon find that the mythical country of Englandandwales is not actually the best of all possible worlds.

David Thomas

Teacher and Plaid Cymru candidate for Montgomeryshire

Hafan Heulog

Llanwddyn, Powys

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