Calls for school funding reform following damning report

A critical report by international experts has called for a review of the Welsh Government’s school funding model, after it said that the current model could affect schools' ability to implement the new curriculum which is due from 2022.

The report, from The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), argued that “evidence suggests that differences in local funding models are causing concern about unequal treatment of schools in similar circumstances” and that “the Welsh Government should therefore consider reviewing its school funding model if it is to realise its ambitions for equity and education and student well-being.”

The paper follows a local authority’s call for reform earlier this year, after the Vale of Glamorgan blamed the Welsh Government’s formula for "chronic underfunding".

According to the BBC report, the Welsh Government responded by saying that ‘no single Welsh authority would face a cut in core funding of more than 0.5% next year’. However, earlier this month it was revealed that 9 of Wales’ 22 local authorities will receive a cut of greater than 0.5% in 2018/19’s local government funding settlement, with 5 of those receiving a 1% cut.

The Welsh Conservative’s called the report ‘game-changing’ and renewed the calls for the Welsh Government to introduce a National Funding Formula in Wales.

Welsh Conservative – and Shadow Secretary for Education – Suzy Davies AM said:

“Unfortunately, since joining Welsh Government, the Lib Dem Education Secretary has forgotten about the historic funding inequalities that exist in our education system. This report is the game changer that the sector needed.

“However, the Welsh Labour Government aren’t strangers to inequitable funding – there is a per pupil spending gap of nearly £700 between England and Wales, as well as within Wales from one council to the next.  That’s not down to a growth in pupil numbers: it’s down to Welsh Government’s choice to cut the relevant budgets.

“Any money for schools in this year’s budget looks like it will be earmarked for training so school leaders will have no meaningful control over how to prioritise its spending.

“The Welsh Conservatives have continuously called for a system that fund schools directly, giving greater spending control to teachers, parents, and governors, directing more money to the classroom and delivering high quality education for every child. Even so they will need a more equitable division of resources, and that means a new funding formula.

“It’s accepted across the sector that the current way of allocate funding to schools is unfair, resulting with some schools struggling to make ends meet. Everyone sees this apart from the Welsh Government, but this report is clear – change is needed in Wales”.

ENDS/

 Notes to Editors:

Link to report: https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/developing-schools-as-learning-organisations-in-wales_9789264307193-en#page243