School children in Penarth and all other Vale of Glamorgan schools are receiving £606 LESS every year in education funding than are school pupils across the rest of Labour-dominated Wales.
Penarth AM Andrew R T Davies who leads the Conservatives in the Welsh Assembly says “action must be taken to address a significant shortfall of education funding in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Mr Davies who is AM for South Wales Central (which includes Penarth) says the average amount spent per pupil this year in the Vale is only £5,022 – that’s £606 BELOW the average for the rest of Wales. It means that primary and secondary schools in Penarth are under-funded compared with the rest of Wales.
The Minister in charge of Education in the Welsh Labour Government is Wales’s only remaining Lib-Dem AM Kirsty Williams – who was invited to join the Welsh Government “cabinet” by Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones to “make up the numbers” as Labour struggled to hold on to a majority in the Welsh Assembly.
The Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Cllr John Thomas has already tackled Kirsty Williams about the shortfall which he says is the result of Labour’s “flawed” education funding system.
Cllr Thomas has also urged all parents in Penarth and the Vale of Glamorgan to send individual emails to Kirsty Williams – pointing out that pupils in Vale schools receive £1,360 less per pupil than the highest funded local authority.
His letter to Vale parents reads:-
We write to you on behalf of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the Schools’ Budget Forum, which is a group set up by the Local Authority to monitor any issues relating to the funding of schools in the Local Authority.
As a group, we have some very serious concerns that the methods used to determine the funding of education across Wales are flawed and result in significant inequalities amongst students.
The funding of education in Wales is driven by a Welsh Government formula which determines the level of funding each local authority should receive.
The level of funding allocated per pupil within the Vale of Glamorgan is the lowest in Wales and we believe that Vale of Glamorgan pupils are disadvantaged as a result.
The Local Authority has made an effort to direct more funding into education services and is currently funding education at £3 million above the amount suggested by Welsh Government in the formula.
However, pupils in the Vale of Glamorgan continue to rank 22 nd out of 22 authorities in terms of funding per pupil.
The gross schools budgeted expenditure in the Vale of Glamorgan for the current financial year is £5,022 per pupil, which is £606 per pupil below the Welsh average of £5,628. As you will realise, this means that your child is on average having £606 less spent on their education per year than the average child across Wales.
The highest funded authority has a gross budget per pupil of £6,382, resulting in a difference of £1,360 per pupil between the highest and lowest funded authorities.
Furthermore, the gap between the highest and lowest funded authorities appears to be increasing and the relative position for pupils in the Vale is worsening.
It is a surprising fact that, despite the pressures of inflation, the level of funding for Vale school students is now on average £123 lower than it was four years ago in 2014.
The Budget Forum has spent some time analysing the Welsh Government formula and believe it to be flawed and no longer relevant. The Welsh Assembly Government state that the principles underpinning their formula are equity, stability, clarity and relevance and yet we note that the formula has not had a total review since 2001 and uses census data from as far back as 1991 to distribute some elements of funding.
In addition, we note that the formula allocates funding for pupils with additional learning needs based on factors of poverty rather than the huge amount of information available based on pupil needs and this data has not been updated since 2003.
These are just two examples of a number of issues that have led us to the conclusion that the formula is not fit for purpose.
Andrew R T Davies says “It is frankly alarming that pupils in the Vale have £606 less spent on them per year than the Welsh average – but it is yet another reminder that we are underfunded. The funding formula used by the Welsh Government is quite clearly out of date.”
Mr Davies says “It is not fair that incompetence from Welsh Government ministers in Cardiff Bay has seen Vale pupils’ educations suffer as a result – despite the hard work of teachers, pupils and parents.
He’s told Kirsty Williams that she needs to accept there is a problem and should take action o make sure the Vale gets the funding it needs”. He’s called on the Welsh Labour Government to “ensure that the constant underfunding of the Vale as a whole is promptly and properly addressed.”