Figures released in January 2007 highlighted that £350 less was spent per pupil in Wales compared with England. By January 2010 that gap had risen to £527 per pupil. The most recent figures available, published in 2011, showed that the per-pupil funding gap between England and Wales had risen to £604. Unfortunately the comparison figures were discontinued in 2012 which has made it impossible to keep track of the funding gap. However, the union estimates that the gap will now be at least £700.
Cuts to the Welsh Government’s funding by Westminster have had a dire impact on public services in Wales. This is being felt within the school system as much as anywhere else with funding levels lagging behind levels of need. However, it is ultimately up to the Welsh Government to ensure our schools are adequately resourced. Alarmingly, figures for 2014/15 show that per pupil funding in Wales is falling for the first time in more than a decade.
Funding cuts have hit school finances at an unprecedented level with teacher redundancies taking place right across Wales. This is leading to a crisis in schools with teachers having to cope with larger class sizes, fewer resources and greater workloads. All of this all of this directly impacts on the quality of education of offer to pupils and the level of support to families offered by schools.
NEU Cymru have been the leading campaigner in Wales for greater investment in the education system. The union is calling on the following actions to be taken:
- The Welsh Government should continue to campaign for a fair funding settlement from Westminster.
- The Welsh Government should make education spending a high priority of the next Assembly term.
- The Welsh Government should detail plan of school funding (with a guarantee of no in-year cuts) with the target of significantly reducing the funding gap compared with England by 2020.
- The Welsh Government should work with the Westminster Government to produce a per pupil spending comparison between England and Wales.
- The Welsh Government should invest in school buildings. Pupils should have the right to be taught in modern standard buildings which are asbestos free.