Page last updated at 20:32 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Teacher wish list for new leader

All three candidates for the Welsh Labour leadership devote large sections of their manifesto to education. BBC Wales education correspondent Colette Hume has been on a journey across Wales to find out what is wanted from the new leader by those who are teaching children, young people and adult learners.

Colin Greenwood
Colin Greenwood wants as much money for his school as in England

Colin Greenwood is the headteacher at St David's Roman Catholic Primary, a popular school in the West Cross area of Swansea.

It was was recently commended for its work with children who speak English as an additional language.

He said: "What I want is not to worry about money. I want enough money to run a school and deliver a service that's fantastic.

"I want as much money as they get in England. That would do the trick, because if it was £100 different in our school that would be £10,000.

"The argument is that it is between £200 and £500 difference between primary pupils in England and Wales.

"The other thing about money is the way that some of it gets tied up in grants and gets bound up in bureaucracy. We get it of course, but we don't get all of it and what we want is for that money to impact on teaching and learning.

"Not to run strategies or run into development plans and things like that. We don't want to waste half the money, planning what we're going to do with the money.

"There isn't any long-term planning for money. What we want is continuity of funding. We don't want to worry that if our number drop by a few that the money will drop by a lot."

He said it was "great" that under the Foundation Phase - the new programme about learning though play - the school had appropriate staff, and it was funded.

"But we don't know where that money's going to come from in the future, we don't know if we lose a few children or a slightly smaller intake whether we can keep our staff.

"So there's always a worry about how far you're going to get before something significant changes without warning.

'Too much bureaucracy'

"I don't want any more bureaucracy. Since September I've had a huge pile sent bilingually on every subject you can think of - transition plans, dealing with incompetent teachers - and really in a school that's running well, it doesn't come into play and we don't need it. They keep sending this stuff out every day of the week.

"I don't want any more initiatives, we have one after another after another. We get an initiative, we start to plan for it, we start to embed it and before it's embedded the next one comes along.

"We don't know if the first one worked, but the next one's on the table. I get paperwork to go with that and since September I can show you a pile that big of every kind of circular, initiative, development, from healthy eating, active children, PE and sport and it goes on and on. Stop doing it, just let us get on with the teaching.

"My message to the new first minister is this: the vast majority of schools - 99% of schools in Wales - are doing a really good job according to [schools inspection service] Estyn - give us the money and let us get on with it."

Brian Robinson
Brian Robinson wants better investment of money in FE colleges

Brian Robinson is the principal of Coleg Sir Gar in Llanelli, one of the biggest further education (FE) colleges with 12,000 learners.

He said: "We in the FE sector are always being told how important we are to the Welsh economy and we believe that to be the case so any funding decisions have to reflect that.

"In Wales at the moment, the number of people aged 19 and over [in education] is going up year on year whereas the number of 16 to 18-year-olds is going down year on year.

"We have to be certain going forward that any funding decisions, any priorities, reflect the the growth in the number of people over the age of 19.

"If we don't, there is a danger that the demand which is there and the need which is there for those people aged 19 and over will not be met, and that will have an adverse effect on the skills pool which is available in Wales.

"We know from work done by Estyn, the inspectorate system in Wales, that there are literally thousands of surplus places in the schools sector in Wales.

"The money that is currently being wasted on those surplus places is something like £30m a year. Clearly that money could be better invested in areas where there is a greater need and a growth.

"What the FE sector in Wales wants is the freedom to respond to the needs of the community we serve.

"We have an excellent track record of responsiveness but we need to be given that free rein to ensure that we can respond quickly and really meet the needs of the people we serve."

Dr Peter Noyes
Peter Noyes wants the new leader to encourage universities to innovate

Dr Peter Noyes is the vice-chancellor of the University of Wales, Newport, one of the country's newest institutions, with 10,000 students, and home to the highly-regarded Newport School of Art, Media and Design.

He said: "What we'd like at the University of Wales, Newport, is for this government and its new first minister to see universities as an investment rather than a drain on the public purse.

"That would give us confidence here in Newport to provide opportunities particularly for people in the valleys and disadvantaged communities that we serve and also opportunities for us to contribute directly to the economy and its future.

"What we also want is for the first minister to encourage universities to innovate and that means work with new companies, work with those in disadvantaged communities in novel way.

"That could be starting up new businesses in locations which have very few businesses in them to encouraging those students in those communities to really engage with higher education and get the full benefit from the experience they can gain at a university like Newport.

"My message to the new first minister is to retain their optimism and work with the universities to build on that optimism and ensure the economy thrives and that disadvantaged communities are fully engaged with higher education."

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