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NAHT Cymru lobby AMs over funding report

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Hefin David Caerphilly AM with Ruth Davies and Dean Taylor

School leaders from across Wales gathered at the Senedd to lobby AMs for fair funding for our schools.

Members of NAHT Cymru, the biggest school leaders trade union, turned out in force ahead of a crucial debate on a report into school funding.

The report, commissioned by the Children and Young Person’s committee, outlined the pressures on schools and the current complexity of funding arrangements. It made a series of recommendations to look at how the funding formulae is derived and how preventative spending on education, rather than reactive spending when problems arise, should be the way forward.

NAHT Cymru launched an e-lobby of Assembly Members that called for them to back the recommendations amid rumours that amendments were being muted to ‘water down’ the recommendations amid concerns on how it would affect local government funding.

However, AMs from across the political spectrum came out to show their support for our #FundWelshSchools campaign. The chair of the CYP committee Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle addressed the crowd, which was also made up of members from ASCL, Unison and NEU, on the steps on the Senedd.

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Ruth Davies NAHT president from Swansea

Dean Taylor, primary head teacher and former NAHT Cymru president, said: “Welsh government has proposed some radical and welcome changes to education.  The roll-out of a new curriculum is a positive step, but we need it to be fully funded. 

"We cannot deliver it on a shoestring. School leaders represent some really challenging communities across Wales, and we cannot do that without properly funded schools and having the teachers and support staff in place to make it happen.  We want our children to have successful futures, but we can’t do that without investment. Education is an investment, not a cost.”

During the debate, when moving all the recommendations of the report, minister for education Kirsty Williams announced that recommendation one, a review of the funding formulae, would begin with an independent academic Luke Sibieta at the helm.  The review will begin soon, and it is expected to be completed by the summer of 2020.

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Bethan Sayed South Wales West AM with Ruth Davies

Speaking on the steps of the Senedd following the debate, NAHT Cymru president Ruth Davies said: “We are heartened to hear that all the recommendations went through, but we are disappointed that some do not go far enough, especially in terms of holding local authorities to account for the money they directly allocate back into schools. 

"We also need to look at the consequentials, that additional money comes in from Westminster to Welsh government, and make sure any money promised comes directly to schools.  NAHT Cymru has campaigned long and hard for fair funding, and we look forward to the review. However, we cannot wait for that review before we take action.  Schools are under huge pressures and we must continue to lobby the Welsh government to recognise that ahead of setting out its draft budget next month.

“We know all too well, as school leaders, that education is not a cost; it is an investment in our children.  And the time for that investment is now.”

Read the report and its recommendations

Watch the debate.

First published 24 October 2019