The Welsh Labour Government needs to be doing more to ensure the Welsh Pupil Premium (Pupil Deprivation Grant) reaches its full potential, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have said.
Ahead of two Assembly sessions examining the educational attainment of poorer pupils, Aled Roberts AM has said the Welsh Government has poorly implemented the Lib Dems’ Pupil Premium idea compared to the Coalition Government’s implementation in England.
The Year 1 evaluation report of the PDG found that most teachers surveyed perceived that PDG interventions were having a positive impact on pupils. However, the enquiry by the Children, Young People and Education Committee found confusion as to the purpose of the grant among schools, with many not aware of the need to specifically target pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Welsh Pupil Premium was first agreed in budget negotiations between the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Government in 2011. From April 2016, it will be worth £1,150 for every child eligible for free school meals. A total of £282m has been secured under the scheme since 2012.
Aled Roberts AM, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Minister, said:
“On almost every measure, Labour ministers are making a pig’s ear of supporting our poorest pupils.
“Unlike the Welsh Government’s ‘Foundation Phase’, evidence shows that the Welsh Pupil Premium is having a positive impact in supporting our poorest pupils. However, time and time again we hear of how the Welsh Labour Government simply isn’t doing enough to allow this policy to reach its full potential.
“Still there are too many Welsh schools that are unaware of how they should be targeting this extra investment, and many aren’t even using the best practice toolkit supplied to them. These are simple steps that could easily be rectified, but the Welsh Labour Government is failing to take action.
“In England, there are clear monitoring procedures in place, but Labour Ministers in Wales keep passing the buck to unelected and unaccountable consortia who are seemingly doing very little to make sure this money is spent properly. The Welsh Labour Government needs to realise that the buck stops with them.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the party of education. We are the only opposition party in the Assembly to secure extra money for our schools and we were the only party in the General Election pledging to increase education funding because we want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to a fair start in life.”