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Monday, October 09, 2006

Government by press release

Following Friday's announcement (whilst the Education Committee were out of the country) that the Assembly Government are abolishing coursework in GCSEs I note that this morning's Western Mail contains yet another initiative by the Education Minister. This time she is proposing giving additional support for gifted pupils.

The paper describes this as a £50,000 aid package but there are no more details than that and I am unable to cast any light as once again this proposal has never been before the Education Committee for scrutiny. It was also interesting that one Cabinet member I spoke to at the weekend was unaware of the proposal on GCSEs. Like the Education Committee the first time this Minister knew of the new policy was when they saw it in the press.

Ministers are not meant to by-pass the Assembly in this way. They are supposed to be accountable for their decisions and subject to scrutiny. However, increasingly that process is being ignored as Jane Davidson, in particular, opts instead to go to the media direct where she can control the flow of information and avoid the awkward questions. It also means that she can by-pass Labour's in-built minority status in Plenary, or so she seems to think.

This sort of arrogance is unacceptable and I have e-mailed the Presiding Officer to ask him to consider the position. I have also asked for an urgent question on the GCSE issue and will be pressing for a statement from the Minister at the earliest possible time.
How about abolishing the Welsh Bac?

I know a teacher - very well-qualified, very successful, Head of Department, excellent value added - who moved schools because she though the Welsh Bac was an unacceptable dumbing down.
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