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Welsh Liberal Democrats call on Welsh and UK Government to work together on education funding stats

January 24, 2012 12:22 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the Welsh Government to work with the Coalition in Westminster to ensure that comparable school expenditure statistics can once again be made available.

Last week, it was announced that the 'Local Authority Budgeted Expenditure on Schools 2011-12: Wales and England Comparison' was to be discontinued because of changes in education policy in England meant it was not possible to produce comparable figures.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are writing to Chief Statistician Kate Chamberlain, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Education to urge collaboration on publishing these statistics.

Since devolution, the gap in per-pupil spend by councils is reported by the Welsh government's statistics unit.

Aled Roberts, Shadow Minister for Education, said:

"As our schools have fallen further and further behind schools across the border, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have campaigned relentlessly for the £604 per pupil spending gap with England to be tackled by the Welsh Government. We have always believed that education is the key investment we can make for all our children.

"This commitment was demonstrated when we ensured that there will be an extra £450 that is going directly to schools for every on child on free school meals. But more still needs to be done, which is why we are so disappointed that we are now being told the funding gap figures are not going to be made available this year.

"This problem needs to be resolved, which is why I am writing to the various department involved to work together.

"Questions have to be asked regarding how long the Education Minister knew that the government's own statistics unit were intending to discontinue publishing these statistics. If the UK Government knew about this earlier, then it is possible this problem could have been averted. It is astounding that the unit believed it was acceptable to make the announcement in such a high handed way.

"It is now imperative the Welsh Government works with the Coalition Government in Westminster to ensure that comparable figures are made available. We believe this can happen, as long as the Welsh Government wants it to happen. I am sure the Welsh Government have always found these statistics to be of particular grim reading, but I hope they accept how important they are at assessing where we are with education spending here in Wales.

"How much money is spent on education is not the most important factor in our children's education, but it is important. We have teachers and parents who strive for excellence, but while our education system remains underfunded, our schools will sadly remain underperforming."