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School leaders in Wales call for national review of school funding and for children’s right to mental health and wellbeing support

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School leaders gather in Liverpool today (Saturday 5 May), from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, for the Annual Conference of school leaders’ union NAHT. There, delegates will debate the most pressing concerns facing schools in Wales, including school funding and children’s mental health. 

Rob Williams, Policy Director of NAHT Cymru, said:

“Schools in Wales are being chronically underfunded by the government. School budgets are at breaking point. It is impacting the quality of education schools are able to deliver to children.

“A national review of school funding in Wales is now required to ensure that there is enough money in the educational system. Every child deserves sufficient, equitable and transparent funding.” 

School leaders in Wales are calling for the following four actions on funding:

1. Age-weighted pupil units should be calculated on a Wales-wide basis and include only criteria relevant to every pupil.

2. Additional criteria elements, related to certain pupils in terms of poverty, ALN etc, should be in addition to the basic AWPU funding.

3. A Wales-wide national funding formula.

4. Auto-registration for Free School Meals. 

Rob Williams continued: “The two most pressing concerns for school leaders in Wales are funding and children’s mental health.

“The demand for professional mental health services has increased in recent years, but funding has plummeted. This means that schools are finding it very difficult to get children the support they need. 

“We currently have a system in crisis, where unsupported children and young people are at best struggling to learn and at worst are at serious risk.

“The Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure in 2011 made Wales the first country in the UK to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into its domestic law. This means that all Welsh policy and legislation has to take into account children's rights. 

“All children and young people have a right to mental health and wellbeing support.

“Schools are doing the best they can but they are hindered by a lack of funding. They need access to training and proper resources to support their pupils. 

“However, any measure of wellbeing should be to enable schools to meet pupil needs, not used as an accountability measure.”

Ruth Davies, head teacher of Waunarlwydd Primary School in Swansea, said: 

“Wales’ new curriculum commits to the rights of learners to be healthy, confident individuals who ‘know how to find the information and support to keep safe and well’. We know that mental ill health can have a profound impact on a child’s transition into adulthood. It is crucial then that schools are supported to make the sort of provision 21st century learners require so that their wellbeing levels (which underpin all achievement and progress measures), are properly and ambitiously targeted.”

First published 05 May 2018