The 2009 Problem - Wales!

David Hawker, the new top civil servant for the Welsh Assembly, wrote in May that schools under 90 were not viable. Our Powys friends petitioned the Assembly protesting against growing numbers of closures but the Rural Development Inquiry subtly steers its report on rural education provision towards area based reorganisation. The Assembly's consultation on general school organisation has a special section all about small school unviability, hoary old chestnuts of course, and the only place in a bland general document where a real 'steer'; is evident towards potential closure.

The consultation offends every principle of adequacy advanced both in the High Court and in the 2008 guidance in England, and likely to govern new Scottish guidance. We have argued the consultation itself is flawed as it limits the exercise to those already in education when its implications affect the wider tax-paying public, and because even for those in education it fails to provide sufficient information to enable intelligent consideration and response. The Rural Development Inquiry rejected our views on small schools buildings being in most cases adequate or better, in the process rejecting four major studies by such as the Design Council and Price/Waterhouse/Coopers and research into school effectiveness from the UK and New Zealand.

Note: in compiling our randomly-chosen summaries of recent ESTYN reports we noted one school with all judgements outstanding but in which inspectors expressly condemned the toilets as unsuitable for pupils or adults. There was no indication this was influencing standards obtained or general school performance.