A Class Apart

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"Gareth is Wales' most incisive commentator on education. He has built a reputation for fair and fearless analysis that gets beyond the spin. His in-depth understanding of his subject allows him to unpack the complexity of pedagogy and politics, explaining developments in clear terms and analysing their significance."
Lee Waters, Director, Institute of Welsh Affairs

"Gareth is a very knowledgeable journalist specialising in educational issues spanning the entire spectrum, from school through university. He is distinguished and trusted because he is a master of data mining and data, basing his reporting only on evidence rather than belief. His columns have consistently been excellent sources of factual information. His approach is the antithesis of spin. His contribution, when needed, is a rare, vital, independent and brave counterbalance to that of the Government machine in Cardiff Bay." 
Sir John Cadogan, f
ormer Director General of the UK Research Councils and inaugural President of the Learned Society of Wales

"Gareth provides the perspective of an analytical, insightful, bold and fearless writer whose primary motivation is to see the Welsh education system become increasingly successful. Yes, he passes judgements and scrutinises actions, but his message is genuine and heartfelt - 'we need more than quick-fixes' if we are to create the education system that Wales deserves. As someone who has worked in more than 30 countries, I am convinced that the issues raised in A Class Apart are applicable internationally. There are many lessons which we can all learn from the Welsh experience and the strategies that they have employed."
Dr Avis Glaze, former Chief Student Achievement Officer of Ontario, Canada

Devolution gave Wales an opportunity. It opened new doors and gave Welsh ministers freedom to break from the unilateral education system that had existed previously. Policy makers would consider developments in a number of countries and Scotland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Finland were all looked upon as possible trend setters.

But with opportunity came risk. Many of the educational initiatives introduced in Wales were untried and untested in a UK context and while variations had been proven to work overseas, ministers had no way of telling whether policy would travel effectively. Wales was taking a giant step into the educational unknown but the emerging Welsh Assembly Government could be sure the decisions taken following devolution would resonate for years to come. A Class Apart tackles the key educational issues of post-devolution Wales:

·         Jane Davidson's break from tradition

·         Welsh education’s place on the world stage

·         The growing funding gap between Wales and England

·         The role of schools inspectorate Estyn

·         The truth behind Wales' ambitious PISA target

·         The 2012 GCSE grading fiasco

·         Secret meetings, personality clashes and a history of merger in higher education

·         The real Leighton Andrews and his shock departure from government

A Class Apart considers the effectiveness of policies introduced by the devolved administration and seek to determine whether they were right for Wales. It reviews the situation in which we find ourselves and plot a course for what has the potential to be a small, clever nation.

Gareth Evans has been the Education Correspondent of the national newspaper of Wales, The Western Mail, since December 2009.  He was educated at Cardiff University and lives in the Vale of Glamorgan.

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