The Welsh Liberal Democrats have reacted with concern to reports that money meant to support disadvantaged children is being used to plug holes in school budgets.
The Pupil Deprevation Grant gives schools £918 for every pupil on free school meals, and should be spent on improving literacy and numeracy skills. The money was secured by the Welsh Liberal Democrats in budget negotiations with the Welsh Labour Government last year.
Aled Roberts AM talking with pupilsAled Roberts AM, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Education, said:
"We have been alerting the Minister to this practice for months, and the Minister has always insisted that the money should either be spent on disadvantaged pupils or taken back.
"This issue has been raised repeatedly in letters and questions to the Minister, both in the Siambr and in Committee.
"The Education Minister has previously been insistent that he had "no evidence" that local authorities were misusing the grant, but today's reports indicate that there is a definite lack of clarity as to how the grant is being used.
"Despite his assurances and our warnings, the Minister seems unable to make it clear to schools and local authorities that the grant is specifically designed to support disadvantaged pupils. It should not be used to meet a Labour manifesto pledge to maintain overall school budgets.
"I will expect the Minister to give a full account of what he is doing about this situation in the Assembly this week. It is time for this issue to be cleared up once and for all."