Vale of Glamorgan Council Leader appears on BBC Radio Wales to highlight issue of pupil underfunding
Vale of Glamorgan Council Leader John Thomas has appeared on BBC Radio Wales’s Good Morning Wales programme to further push for a fairer Education funding settlement from Welsh Government.
The level of funding allocated per pupil within the Vale is the lowest in Wales, with the Council receiving £568 less per pupil than the Welsh average and £1,349 less than the highest funded Local Authority.
A standard 210-place Vale primary school could receive an extra £119,000 per year if it was funded at the Welsh average.
Last year Cllr Thomas wrote a joint letter with School Budget Forum Chair, Dr Vince Browne, to Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, expressing his concern at the situation.
And last week 10 Penarth Headteachers banded together to make Welsh Government aware of the detrimental impact this was having on how schools operate.
Talking to presenter Dot Davies, Cllr Thomas said: “I’m very worried and as a Council we’re very worried about the level of funding we get for Education. Unfortunately, the knock-on effect is that schools are not what they should be.
“It’s important to realise that we get the majority of our funding from Welsh Government through our settlement and we have to allocate that funding to all the services that we have to provide.
“The Welsh Government have what they call an Indicator Based Assessment, which works out what they think we should be spending on our schools to keep them running, and at the moment we, as an Authority, are funding our schools at around £4 million above the Indicator Based Assessment.
“I think it’s a bit disingenuous of Welsh Government to say it’s up to us to decide how we fund schools. We can only use the money that we’re getting from them.
“The trouble in the Vale of Glamorgan is that we are funded £600 less per pupil than the average in Wales, but there’s a problem throughout Wales. Even the councils that are being funded above the assessment are struggling so it’s obvious that the Vale of Glamorgan will be struggling.”
Welsh Government’s pupil funding formula has been taken from information gathered from the 1991 census and has not been reviewed since.
“We’ve been asking for a long time for some clarity on how the formula actually works and no-body seems to be able to give us an answer,” added Cllr Thomas. A lot of data involved in working out the formula is over 30 years old, which seems totally unfair.
“Welsh Government funding is based on a lot of factors and deprivation is one of them. I don’t think we can ever claim in the Vale of Glamorgan we should be funded as highly as some of the more deprived areas in Wales, but at the end of the day it costs the same to educate a child whatever part of Wales you’re in and it costs the same to employ teachers. We have the same costs as other authorities and we’re funded £600 per pupil below the Welsh average.
“When you hear that other councils are struggling, is it any wonder that the Vale is struggling when our funding is so low?
“I attend many of the Budget Forum meetings and the Headteachers are generally supportive of the Vale in the way that we support the schools above the Indicator Based Assessment.
“Our budget in the Vale is £225 million and around half that goes on Education, which means money is being taken away from other services, Social Services being the next biggest service to Education.
“We have difficult choices. We could chose to spend more money on Education, but that money would come from the budget for other essential services.”