The new Education Minister was today accused of prejudging his own consultation on the future of delivering education services after he abandoned considerations launched by his predecessor to directly fund schools.
When he set up a review into the future delivery of education services in Wales, the then Minister Leighton Andrews instructed the review to consider ’whether schools should be directly funded by Welsh Ministers’.
Figures published last week revealed that on average £992 per pupil is retained by local education authorities every year and not passed on to schools. The figures show that almost a fifth of the education budget given to local education authorities is not passed on to schools.
Yesterday, in response to a question from Paul Davies AM, the new Minister ruled out the direct funding of schools even though the Welsh Government’s own consultation on the future delivery of education services has only just opened.
Angela Burns AM, Shadow Minister for Education, said, “This statement is a worrying insight into the new Minister’s direction for the education portfolio and completely prejudges the results of the Welsh Government’s own consultation.
“I hope this lurch in favour of bureaucracy and red tape is not a sign of things to come in the Welsh education system.
“We should be devolving more control and financial responsibility to teachers, parents and governors who know what is best for their local school and are best-placed to spend more of the education budget.
“After a decade of decline we need a determined focus on raising standards in our schools, which will not be helped if the new Minister is more interested in ideology than maximising the amount of money reaching the classroom.”
Paul Davies, Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said, “This Welsh Labour Government claims to be open and transparent, but what is the point of running a consultation if Ministers ignore the views raised and simply plough on with their socialist ideology?
“Welsh Labour Ministers have a duty to bring forward considered and evidence-based policy and shouldn’t make major policy decisions on a whim without any consideration of the facts.
“Welsh Conservatives have consistently highlighted that almost a fifth of LEAs’ education budget is being wasted in bureaucracy, amounting to almost £1,000 per pupil.
“I fail to see how Welsh Labour Ministers can continue to defend almost a fifth of schools spending being wasted in unnecessary bureaucracy – especially at a time of austerity.”