School leaders gathering for the annual NAHT Cymru Conference in Cardigan on Thursday 9 November, are warning that more clarity on funding is vital to ensure high standards in education.
Dean Taylor NAHT Cymru Vice-President is lead spokesperson on the issue of funding. He states, “NAHT Cymru put school funding onto the agenda nationally. It’s now time for an honest, open and mature debate about school budgets in Wales: school leaders simply don’t know if there’s enough money in the school system. A national audit is required and we need to see an approach to school funding that is more equitable and transparent.”
Funding will be high on the agenda at the conference, particularly when Kirsty Williams AM, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, addresses delegates in her first public speech since her reappointment. Rob Williams, NAHT Cymru Director of Policy says:
“Kirsty Williams’ willingness to listen combined with a focus upon what is best for pupils have proved invaluable during her time as Cabinet Secretary. We’re delighted that one of her first public duties after her reappointment will be speaking to Welsh school leaders. We’ll be waiting to hear about the Welsh Government’s funding commitments for the long term.”
At the conference, NAHT Cymru will also be calling on the Welsh Government for improvements in four further key areas:
Clearly defined plans so leaders can take ownership of the reforms and maximise pupil progress;
Assessment and accountability systems to align within the ambitious plans as they take shape;
Managed workload, with a focus on doing the fewer most important things well, to enable change to take place;
Everyone to recognise their role in school improvement.
At the conference, Damon McGarvie new NAHT Cymru President 2017 will welcome the fact that the timetable for implementation of the new curriculum has been extended, but point out that, “The Welsh Government now needs to ensure that every school is directly involved in working towards the roll-out of the new arrangements.”
Damon will stress that: “Communication to all schools is key and there is a sense from some in the system that they have yet to fully understand what changes will be required. Welsh Government, Consortia, Estyn and the profession must all play their part. A cohesive, clear message is required.”
Mark Biltcliffe – NAHT Cymru Immediate Past President feels important issues around structures, accountability and inspection continue to need addressing. He says: “We welcome the commitment by Regional Consortia across Wales to work more cohesively and consistently but there is still much more to do.
“Differing performance measures should not be in direct conflict when focused upon the same setting. The role of the Consortia should not drift into the remit for the inspectorate.
“Challenge Advisers sometimes can appear to operate individually which produces too great a variability at school level. The parameters for this crucial role must be made clear on a national basis and must be adhered to in all schools.”
On recruitment and retention Ruth Davies of the NAHT National Executive says: “We need a clear-headed assessment, on the devolution of teachers’ pay and conditions. We must not risk negatively impacting upon the most valuable resource that affects pupil progress – our teachers. Welsh Government reform success is reliant upon investing in the profession.”
Chris Britten – NAHT Cymru ALN Representative clearly states “Pupil wellbeing and mental health requires aligned support between education, health and social care – in the best examples, this should occur even before they have started school. This has not yet been achieved and yet should be a non-negotiable, but with funding pressures across the public sector, it remains the greatest challenge.”
The theme of the NAHT Cymru annual conference will be ‘Successful Leaders: Inspired Futures.' Speakers and delegates will debate powerful ways to transform education right across the country.
On day one, leadership guest speaker, Georgina Jones, will speak about ‘Turning Lights On’, which teaches people ways to live in the present and develop a more connected, fulfilled life. Delegates may use such practice for professional relationships, communication, wellbeing and their personal careers.
Turn Lights On has appeared on ITV news, London Live and in the national press. Customers include Innocent drinks and National Office of Statistics.
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