Schools welcome budget boost from council
City schools are set to benefit from a cash increase of £3.2m in funding as Swansea Council aims to deliver on its promise to continue to prioritise education services.
Head teachers will get the extra cash to help their budgets to continue to support teachers to deliver top quality lessons at their schools.
The money has been made available by the council to help offset funding pressures on schools, many of which the council has no control over.
Jen Raynor, Cabinet Member for Education, said: “The council has always said that, as far as possible, extra funding we receive from the Welsh Government above and beyond our expectations would be spent on schools.
“A better-than-expected settlement from the Welsh Government this year means we’ve been able to direct much-needed cash to support head teachers and staff deliver the best possible education for our children.
“We recognise that like us schools face significant financial challenges in an age of austerity and the package we’ve put together will offset most of the funding pressures facing schools this year.”
The measures were agreed at Full Council and Cllr Raynor said: “Over the last year our schools have delivered for the children of our city and their futures.
“Overall attendance at primary and secondary schools is at record levels and pupils’ exam results at GCSE and A-Level are continuing to improve, bucking the national trends.
“Education is a top priority for the council and the results our schools are achieving demonstrate the continuing value of the investment. Despite the extra funding we recognise the financial position for school funding remains challenging and we will continue to work with schools so they can continue to deliver for their pupils and their communities.”
Among the financial pressures faced by schools is pay and price inflation and changes in National Insurance contributions arrangements.
In addition to the £3.2m, another £800,000 is being made available to further support the capital investment needs across schools where there are issues which fall outside the Council’s annual structural maintenance programme but which do not meet the national criteria for inclusion as part of the 21st Century Schools Programme.
Gethin Sutton, Vice Chair of the School Budget Forum, said that the discussions between school representatives and the council had been constructive. He said head teachers particularly welcomed the extra money coming to schools to help support classroom teaching, the continuing school-building programme and extra investment to address capital investment needs facing schools.
In a letter to the council on behalf of the forum, he said: “Through working closely with the Authority schools have been better able to manage the significant pressures and increasing expectations placed upon them and to mitigate large-scale redundancies on the council.
“Nevertheless, the impact of further real terms cuts proposed for 2016/17, presents an extremely challenging position for schools.”
He added: “We recognise the importance the council places in education and their recognition of the significant achievements of our schools against a very challenging financial background for us and the council.
“Our hope is that the council continues to invest in schools as much as possible in the years ahead so that the foundation for future excellence is not jeopardised.”
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