Plaid Cymru has obtained information revealing Welsh Government plans to introduce £5m of cuts to education grants this year, on top of the spending cuts already announced.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Education and Skills Minister said he understood local authorities were being warned and told to prepare for substantial cuts of £5m in direct grants for the current financial year.
He stated that these would impact particularly on learners from poorer backgrounds and was further evidence of sleight of hand by Welsh minister on their much-vaunted 1% increase in schools’ funding.
It is understood that the Welsh Government plans £5m cuts to 3 specific all-Wales grants:
• The School Effectiveness Grant
• Minority and Ethnic Achievement Grant
• 14 – 19 Network Grant
Shadow Education and Skills Minister for the Party of Wales, Simon Thomas said:
“It is disappointing that leaks and rumours are the only way our Welsh parliament can discover what the government is planning and that cuts are being proposed in the summer recess when Welsh Ministers can’t be forced to account for their actions in the Assembly. It seems an underhand way of doing things. What are they scared of?”
Mr Thomas said the cuts came on top of increasing evidence that the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG), which was doubled in a budget agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Labour Welsh Government, was not in fact wholly additional spending but was being used to paper over the cracks.
“Welsh Government has consistently failed to demonstrate that the whole of the PDG has been additional to what was planned anyway. All they can show is a vague set of figures of school allocations. These further cuts will come as a bombshell to many schools that use the money to employ assistants and buy-in specialist help.
These cuts will have a disproportionate impact on pupils from poorer communities. The school effectiveness grant is the underpinning for the Pupil Deprivation Grant. The grant is designed to raise standards and fulfil national priorities such as breaking the link between educational attainment and poverty. This is robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
“These cuts will affect pupils in classrooms across Wales. Many education providers will have planned their services for September but now won’t have the money available. This will be a major headache for head teachers because a great deal of this money is devolved to schools so more bureaucracy for less money will be the result of this Welsh Government decision.”
“I believe these cuts are being considered in education because of overspending in the health department and they could be the first of many such in-year cuts.”
The Mid and West AM added:
“The Party of Wales is the only mainstream voice against these cuts opposed on us ultimately from Westminster. A Plaid Cymru Welsh Government would cut red tape imposed on teachers and head teachers allowing them to teach and lead in our schools.”