BRING SECTOR TOGETHER TO HELP TACKLE SCHOOL FUNDING CRISIS
Plaid Cymru AMs will today hold a debate in the Senedd chamber to call on the Welsh Government to bring together key stakeholders in the education system to look anew at the way school funding operates in Wales. The motion will also call on the government to maximise transparency and minimise bureaucracy in school funding and ensure that all schools have sufficient funds to deliver a high quality education for all pupils.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Llyr Gruffydd AM and Plaid Cymru shadow cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning said,
“School budgets are becoming untenable and pupils’ education will suffer unless urgent action is taken.
“It’s at this time of austerity that we should be investing in our children and young people more than ever before. However, the Labour Welsh Government and Liberal Democrat Cabinet Secretary for Education, are presiding over a funding crisis that’s leading to staff cuts, increased class sizes, a growing reliance on teaching assistants and a reduction in curriculum opportunities.
“This academic year the Welsh Education budget has decreased from £1.75bn in 2016-17 to £1.6bn. Schools are increasingly being forced to make staff redundant. This adds pressure on the remaining workforce in a sector that has already seen a huge increase in stress related absences amongst teachers in recent years. This consequently makes the sector unattractive to new recruits and leads to many leaving the sector.
“The whole situation is compounded by the complex and inconsistent school funding landscape. The Welsh Government provides some funding through consortia, some in grants to schools, most comes through Local Authorities, with some of that incorporated into the Revenue Support Grant and some ring-fenced as discreet funding for specific purposes. Sixth form funding is separate again. It’s all very discombobulated and that needs to change.
“Plaid Cymru believes the time has come to bring everyone with a stake in education together – councils, consortia, teachers, parents, governors and pupils to discuss a way forward. The Labour Welsh Government and Liberal Democrat Cabinet Secretary must take responsibility for ensuring that all schools have sufficient funding to deliver a high quality education for all pupils, rather than passing the buck to our cash-strapped councils.”
• Plaid Cymru submitted a series of Freedom of Information requests to Local Authorities in order to gain a clearer picture of the situation throughout Wales.
• Responses from Local Authorities clearly show that stress is becoming more of an issue. Some Local Authorities reported extremely long individual absences due to stress – the longest individual absence was found in the Vale of Glamorgan (683 days). Followed by Gwynedd (647 days).
• 33.6% of school teachers that responded to the Education Workforce Council’s national education workforce survey intend to leave their profession in the next three years.
National Education Union Cymru figures show that over 50,000 working days a year are lost by teachers due to stress-related illness.
• 90% of teachers say that they can’t manage their workload within their agreed working hours. Estyn has also shown that teachers in Wales work on average fifty hours a week.