Welsh Lib Dems calls for more help for poorer pupils

September 24, 2013 1:05 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are this week calling on the Welsh Labour Government to do more to help poorer pupils in Wales.

In their debate taking place this Wednesday, the party will be highlighting the need for the Pupil Deprivation Grant to be significantly increased.

The Pupil Deprivation Grant provides schools with extra money to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds. In Wales it is currently £450 per eligible pupil.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats agreed to support the Welsh Labour Government's 2012-2013 Budget on the basis of securing £32.04 million for the grant.

Aled Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Education, said:

"The Pupil Deprivation Grant was a key commitment in the Welsh Liberal Democrat's 2011 manifesto. I'm delighted we have made it a reality. However, I'm concerned that the Welsh Labour Government is now content to sit back and think the work is done.

"It is a shocking fact that only 20% of young people from the poorest families achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths, compared with 75% from the richest families. We must put an end to this inequality.

"Our recent survey showed that this extra money is helping children from poorer homes have a better chance to succeed at school. Yet, many teachers expressed concern that they were unsure how long the grant would continue. It is unfair for the Welsh Labour Government not to provide clarity on the matter and we will be calling on them to do so in our debate this week.

"Liberal Democrats in England have increased funding to £1,300 per child on free schools meals. In Wales it is currently £450 per pupil. Once again, the Welsh Labour Government's poverty of ambition is allowing pupils in Wales to fall further behind. We all know that Welsh schools have suffered from years of being underfunded compared to England. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are fighting to ensure that Welsh pupils are put on an even footing."

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