Wales falls £600 behind on per-pupil spending
The per-pupil spending gap between Wales and England has hit a new record high of more than £600, according to new figures released this week.
Teaching unions said the scale of the divide was “truly shocking” and questioned whether pledges to reduce it could be met.
In 1999/2000 the gap between England and Wales was just £58 per pupil, a difference of 2 per cent. In 2009/10, after a decade of devolution, the gap was £604 per pupil, a 10.8 per cent difference and a huge increase on the previous year’s figure of £532.
On average Wales now spends less per pupil than any region of England.
First minister Carwyn Jones has promised to increase education spending by 1 per cent above the block grant from Westminster from this year, with funding set to rise from £1.83 billion to £1.9 billion by 2013/14.
But NUT Cymru secretary David Evans called the scale of the gap “ridiculous” and said the first minister’s pledge may not be enough to close it.
“Clearly it’s time to up the stakes now,” he said. “A realistic system of school funding needs to be put in place as a matter of urgency if we are to stand any chance of addressing this.”
Dr Philip Dixon, director of education union ATL Cymru, called the figures “truly shocking” and said a “psychological barrier” had been broken.
“On the ground, teachers and heads will know what this lack of money means in terms of equipment, buildings and resources,” he said. “This simply cannot continue.”
Rex Phillips, Wales organiser of the NASUWT union, said: “This figure puts the Pisa results and the chief inspector’s report into perspective. In this financial context these findings are hardly surprising - Wales has been short-changing its pupils for many years.”
Budgets for 2010/11 have not been included in the new statistics because local authorities in England have taken on additional responsibilities since the scrapping of the Learning and Skills Council, making comparisons “inappropriate”.
The Assembly government is investigating if and how comparisons can be made between the two countries in future.
An Assembly government spokesman accepted there was a funding gap, but said local authority education expenditure had increased by 81.3 per cent since 1999/00.
- Original headline: Shock as Wales falls £600 behind England on per-pupil spending