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This report is taken from PN Review 154, Volume 30 Number 2, November - December 2003.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

I might as well pick up the threads of this letter where I left off at the end of the last, with politics in Wales. In the 1970s, long before devolution, responsibility for all aspects of primary and secondary education this side of the Dyke was handed over to the Welsh Office. Its education department and institutions it set up put a Welsh gloss on education policy emanating from Westminster. Thus, when the National Curriculum was introduced, themes and topics for study at the various key stages were 'naturalised' wherever possible and, of course, there was always the special place accorded the Welsh language to emphasise the curricular difference between schools here and in England. The degree of freedom the system in Wales was permitted gradually increased under the regime of the Welsh Office, but since the advent of the Assembly the concept of separate development has been granted unexpectedly free rein. We have seen, for instance, formal Key Stage 1 assessments (almost universally deplored by parents and teachers everywhere) scrapped and, well in advance of similar changes now proposed in England, the introduction of a Welsh 'baccalaureate', which is slowly beginning to spread in the secondary sector.

With the transfer of control over higher education student support from Westminster to the Assembly in July of this year, it appeared that we were about to witness the most significant departure yet from New Labour education policy, for this ceding of responsibility will enable Welsh Labour to fulfil ...


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