The financial situation for schools across Wales has become critical. However, the classroom cash crisis is even worse here in Conwy as the Welsh Government keeps underfunding the local authority. Indeed, this year, the Council has seen the highest percentage cut across Wales.
Welsh Government decisions on school funding are negatively effecting hard working staff and the education of our youngest generation. Already, I know of schools in Aberconwy where serious steps have had to be taken to balance books. I am clear that things are set to get worse, and know that a number of schools are having to consider increasing the size of classes, having fewer teachers, cutting teaching assistants, and reducing support for children and young people with additional learning needs. This just isn’t right, especially when considering that almost £700 extra is spent per pupil in England, and that for every £1 spent there, £1.20 is sent here.
Last week, I challenged Kirsty Williams AM, Minister for Education, about the situation in Conwy. I quoted the letter written by our secondary school head teachers, and highlighted the fact that whilst the Welsh Government did allocate £2.5billion to schools for this financial year, around £450million has been retained by local authorities or regional consortia. Almost all of that money could and should have gone to our schools. Just imagine the difference it would make!
Going forward, I am pleaded to be cooperating with some schools, and will continue to try to convince the Welsh Government to change its school funding model to the one proposed by the Welsh Conservatives and me. What this would see is schools directly funded, and greater spending controls given to teachers, parents and governors, and as a consequence, more money reach the classroom.