Commenting as the Education Policy Institute (EPI) today publishes a study comparing UK schools policies since devolution, Laura Doel, director of school leaders' union NAHT Cymru, said:
“This report gives some positive headlines for Wales, with pupil spend on a par with England, and the abolition of league tables, which were a crude measure of school performance and placed an unnecessary burden on schools.
“We welcome that since devolution schools have had a greater share of education funding devolved directly to them at 84% in 2020/21. However there are some key issues for us that this report does not address.
“The education consortia or middle tier came as a result of devolution and a greater emphasis on collaboration between Local Authorities when it comes to improving standards. While the ambition is to be applauded, the reality is that there is a lack of understanding of the role of the middle tier and inconsistency of approach across the nation. Although they offer support to schools, questions have to be asked as to whether a country as small as Wales, with 22 Local Authorities, can justify this additional layer of governance alongside the role of Estyn, LAs, the Welsh Government and of course individual school governing bodies.
“NAHT Cymru in its Senedd election manifesto is calling for a review of the middle tier, to ensure that they offer value for money and provide a service that is not provided elsewhere in the education system.
“When this report shows that schools funding levels have fallen consistently over the last ten years, and when the pupil:teacher ratio has risen significantly in primary schools as spending cuts have taken effect, we have to be confident that the money put into education is going where it can have the greatest benefit to learners.
“Ahead of important elections next week, and as nations formulate their pandemic recovery plans, policymakers would do well to reflect on how their education priorities have evolved over the last twenty years, and whether they are well-equipped to meet new challenges in the years ahead.”
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