Welsh wizardry

"I'm not only perfect - I'm Welsh." The Welsh have never been a smug nation, but as this summer's cheekiest T-shirt slogan suggests, devolution has done wonders for their self-belief.

The country's recent education performance has also boosted confidence levels, as has the raft of "Made in Wales" policies, such as scrapping tests for seven-year-olds. But the unions say this picture of success is spoiled by a "school funding fog" that is thicker than anything rolling off the Irish Sea.

Money that Westminster earmarks for schools is said to disappear when it is reallocated by the National Assembly and local authorities. The politicians counter-claim that spending is at record levels and that councils are entitled to make "local decisions for local people".That argument has merit in this over-centralised age but asking the Assembly to ensure minimum spending levels - the unions' favoured solution - does not seem unreasonable.

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