What has the National Assembly meant for education?

Teachers speak up about progress to date

Gaynor Bell, head of sixth form, St Joseph's Roman Catholic high school, Newport, says: "The Assembly is attempting to listen to what schools have to say. What we want, as an absolute minimum, is to adopt what is good practice in England. We don't want our students to be second-best. I am disappointed that we no longer have a Level 8 in national tests in Wales although there is one in England. I feel that this is dumbing down. In future I want us to work in tandem to minimise differences for our students' sakes."

Tony Corten, head of religious education, St Joseph's RC high school, Newport, says: "It is a new institution so perhaps it is too early to say what it has achieved, but my main worry is that there has been a failure of communication. I live and work in Wales and I don't really know what the assembly has done. What I do know is that the executive member, Rosemary Butler, has visited schools and seems willing to listen. I hope some of that listening is going to be translated into action."

Gwen Brockley, headteacher, Ysgol Gwaenynog infants school, Denbigh, says:

"As an infant school we have benefited from the Assembly's strategy to reduce class sizes and have employed an extra teacher. The school has also had funding to build a classroom to accommodate the extra class. I would like to see pupils in the other key stages benefiting from funding to reduce class sizes below 30."

David Horman, deputy head, Ysgol Gynradd Cemaes, Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, says: "The influence seems to come from London, rather than the Assembly. Quite a bit of money is spent on other aspects of the curriculum when more money should be spent on the Welsh language. We do feel that the Assembly wants to do more but lacks the necessary powers. It wants to cut down on bureaucracy, for example, but it appears it has to toe the line."

Robin Griffiths, headteacher, Ysgol Bodorgan community school, Gwynedd, says: "The Assembly has started to have a positive effect on education. It has given us our own Welsh flavour and stamp. But there have been disappointments. We were all pleased with the stance the Assembly took against performance-related pay. But most teachers are disappointed that it doesn't have more authority regarding PRP."

Eirwen Roberts, key stage 1 teacher, Ysgol Bodorgan community school, Gwynedd, says: "The Assembly could ensure that techers in Wales have the same advantages as our English colleagues, for example pound;500 towards a laptop. It could, and hopefully will, protect the Welsh language and culture. The Assembly could develop and upgrade libraries, museums and art galleries as centres of learning where children can learn of their Welsh inheritance. The Assembly is a new institution and it needs some time to develop."

Colin Bowden, history teacher, Darland high school, Wrexham, says: "The Assembly is beginning to flex its muscles. Members are taking a very active part in promoting education in Wales and schools by allowing us to have an individual approach. I teach in an Anglicised part of Wales so I would like to see the Assembly help give a Welsh dimension to the curriculum through providing materials and resources."

Gwenllian Jones, GNVQ co-ordinator, St Richard Gwyn RC high school, Flint, says: "As a Welsh-speaker I voted for the Assembly because I felt we would get support at a local level, but I regret my decision - to date. I feel that north Wales, and specifically Flintshire, has gained very little. We are actually subsidising the south Wales authorities who have grossly overspent. If the Assembly was dismantled tomorrow we would be quite joyous."

Martin Kaye, headteacher, Corychurch (Llangrallo)primary, Bridgend, says:

"Everything lags behind England and communication between the Assembly and schools is not fully developed yet. We have been waiting for details on the threshold payments which could have a big impact on all classroom teachers but details have been very slow coming through. As a primary head I have had no training on that and my staff know even less - it all seems a bit last minute."

Lynne Sels, Year 5 teacher, Garth primary school, Bridgend, says: "I don't really know what the Assembly has achieved. With some things we are part of England and with others we are not. I would like to see reduced class sizes and more support given to help teachers deal with students with behaviour problems."

Keith Batten, Year 4 teacher, Garth primary school, Bridgend, says: "Since the Assembly we have seen a lot of press releases on how much money has been poured into education but our class sizes have got bigger. We also need extra funding for teacher training, especially for those dealing with children with special educational needs - this is adding extra strain on teachers."

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