Education Minister to Direct More Funding to Frontline; Andrews Aims to Close Gap with England

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 19, 2010 | Go to article overview

Education Minister to Direct More Funding to Frontline; Andrews Aims to Close Gap with England


Byline: David Williamson

LESS than half of the money spent in Wales on education goes into teaching and learning, according to a landmark review which could trigger major changes in funding.

The study of the Welsh education system found that just 44% of a budget of more than pounds 4bn was used to directly fund teaching.

While 77% of spending in schools went to classroom activities, teaching was the target of just 46% of further education expenditure and a mere 17% of money spent in the higher education sector.

The report by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers estimates that a 2% shift in spending away from behind-the-scenes services into frontline activities would equate to a cash injection of pounds 83m.

If a 10% shift was achieved this could mean pounds 415m would go towards improving the quality of learning.

At present less than a third of funding goes to areas such as service management and financial administration.

Labour Education Minister Leighton Andrews acknowledged a transformation could not be achieved over night but was adamant he wanted to see results in the next 12 months.

PLEDGE: Leighton aims to close He said: "What I would want to see is a demonstrable commitment across the entire education sector that this is a direction of change they endorse and they support. This is designed to ensure that learners get better support in the classroom."

The minister did not predict a net fall in jobs and did not anticipate major structural changes in the way organisations are run.

He said: "We're not talking about cutting spending, we're talking about moving money to the front lines and there is no reason overall why there should be job losses... This is not about cuts, this is not about radical reorganisation, this is about how do you get a better balance going into the frontline of learning and teaching and research."

Mr Andrews signalled he would not be surprised if students who have to pay tuition fees demand universities invest more in teaching.

He said: "There is no question the way higher education is now funded, you might think, would make the consumer voice amongst students a more potent weapon."

The review of the cost of administering the education system in Wales recommends that public bodies such as inspection agency Estyn, funding council HEFCW and the careers services use "a single back office".

Andrews funding gap The review also reveals that the process by which people apply for places, grants and other services costs pounds 152m and suggests this should be standardised. …

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