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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Undermining the foundations

The Western Mail's article on the failure of the Labour-Plaid Cymru Government to properly fund the Foundation Phase underlines just how much trouble the Government is in.

The Minister has found another £5 million to ensure that the pilot schools do not have to make redundancies but has left other headteachers scratching their head as to how they are going to afford to introduce the scheme. The Welsh Local Government Association, teachers' unions and opposition politicians have united to point out that there is still a £10 million shortfall. All the Minister has succeeded in doing is to create two different classes of schools, those who can afford to deliver the scheme with a 1 to 8 teacher pupil ratio (the pilots) and those who cannot.

Throughout the history of this scheme ministers have stressed that this 1 to 8 ratio is crucial to the Foundation Phase's success. They have given assurances that it will be properly funded and that the workforce planning issues will be addressed. Yet when it came to the crunch and it was time to put their money where their mouth is the Government pulled back.

The Minister now says that the 1 to 8 ratio is not necessary after all. She has watered down the core rationale of the scheme. The losers will be the children. The sheer strength of the outrage shown by the professionals at the Minister's back-tracking indicates that this row is not over yet. The pressure on the Government to provide more money is immense.
"...to create two different classes of schools, those who can afford to deliver the scheme with a 1 to 8 teacher pupil ratio (the pilots) and those who cannot."

By a "spooky" coincidence all the pilot schools will also be the Welsh-medium schools in those heartlands. :-)

Why worry, Peter?

There will always be "two different classes of schools". Those who pay and those who can't. Private and state.

It matters little whether you attend a Welsh-medium state school or an English-medium state school - that may, or may not, implement "The Foundation Phase".

Call me "very old-fashioned" but to give your own son or daughter the best, you should pay for it yourself. If you can't afford it you should be arguing for "The Academic Phase" in state education. Not all this fuddy duddy left-wing play twaddle - that is designed only to further the children of the articulate and involved middle-classes.

Thankfully, some of us can afford to escape all this ideology, dogma and claptrap. Claptrap that failed in the 1960s and the 1970s. Any children of mine will be educated over the border. I've already been in touch with Winchester, Eton and Harrow. There are some lovely traditional boarding prep schools nearby too.
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