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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Strong feelings

I had a meeting with a headteacher from Neath Port Talbot this morning to discuss the funding of the Foundation Phase for 3 to 7 year olds. When the phone rang to say that my constituent had arrived my office was informed that she had brought another nine headteachers with her. Following a frantic phone call to arrange a suitably sized room the meeting was able to go ahead. It was most illuminating.

Feelings on this issue are running very high. The heads told me that despite the extra five million pounds put into this scheme by the Education Minister they still face a significant shorftfall if they are to implement it. The pilot schemes clearly indicated that a teacher pupil ratio of 1 to 8 is necessary and yet schools only have half the funding necessary to deliver this.

This affects schools all over Wales. The extra money that has been found is to ensure that those schools which piloted this scheme remain fully-funded. Unfortunately, that does not help the vast majority of schools who will not be able to afford to deliver the same staffing levels. The Minister has effectively created a two tier education system for this age group. She needs to reconsider her position and find more money to deliver this very good scheme.
She has taken the easier option of reining back the scheme.

The top tier of this two-tier system just became more exclusive.
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