Funding need is ‘immediate’ for Welsh schools

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

Welsh headteachers are demanding an urgent increase in funding ahead of a major Welsh government review which is due to be completed by next summer.

Education minister Kirsty Williams has launched a review of how total spending “varies across schools” following a recommendation from the Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee.

But, while welcoming the review, teaching unions are concerned about the financial strain that schools are operating under.

“Schools cannot wait for the report to emerge before more funding is allocated for school budgets,” Rob Williams, director of the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru said. “We are calling upon the Welsh government to invest more money in education immediately.”

He said it must be proven that funding allocated at local consortia and council level has as much positive impacts for pupils as it would if it were allocated directly to schools: “School leaders still believe that a change to the formulae used to calculate school budgets, both at Welsh government level and local authority level, is required. This, too, should be a focus for the review.”

The National Education Union Cymru agrees. General secretary David Evans said: “We have consistently argued that different formulas and methods of devolving resources to schools in Wales result in glaring discrepancies with schools invariably losing out.

“Defining the basic minimum cost of running a school and educating pupils in Wales and then allocating additional resources as necessary according to local circumstances, deprivation and sparsity is an exercise that is long overdue.”

As part of the review, education economist Luke Sibieta is to analyse how total spending, and spending on different categories of inputs, varies across schools in specific circumstances in Wales, taking into account issues such as levels of deprivation, rurality and growth in Welsh medium education.

Ms Williams added: “According to Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis, spending per pupil in Wales is just below £6,000 on average.

However, this varies considerably between local authorities, reflecting differences in deprivation and sparsity, as well as choices made by local authorities in line with their responsibility for setting school budgets.

“Although schools differ significantly in terms of the factors which influence their costs, making it difficult to identify a ‘minimum cost’, this work will provide an essential analysis for government, local authorities, schools and all with an interest in securing the right investment in Welsh education.”

A government spokesperson said there would be “ample opportunity” for unions, teachers, councils and others to engage with the review.

Funding concerns come as schools prepare for the new “Successful Futures” curriculum, which is to be rolled out in 2022. A consultation on the draft curriculum has brought demands for greater depth and detail in the curriculum guidance. An updated curriculum framework will be published in January.


Comments
Name
 
Email
 
Comments
 

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
 
Sign up SecEd Bulletin