Funding for schools in Wales will remain at 1% above changes to the Welsh Budget overall, despite a challenging settlement from the UK Government, Education Minister, Huw Lewis has confirmed.
The 1% commitment means that schools in Wales will benefit from almost £40m extra in the next year, with the majority being allocated through local authorities for the delivery of core schools provision.
The Minister said the additional investment in schools will help to further raise standards and continue the new momentum within Welsh education.
The draft budget will also see the Welsh Government’s flagship Schools Challenge Cymru programme, which aims to improve performance in 40 of Wales most challenged schools, being extended into a third year with a £15m investment for 2016-17.
This follows news last week that two thirds of the forty schools participating in the Challenge have seen improvement in their GCSE results after just one year of additional support.
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The Minister said:
“This is a budget that, despite challenges, will enable us to press on with our work to raise standards and build on the new momentum already identified in education in Wales. Ultimately it will enable us to invest in the future of our young people.
“Throughout this Assembly term, we have protected schools funding by 1% above changes to the Welsh budget. This has provided an additional £105.9m investment to schools and I am delighted that we are able to continue this 1% protection into 2016/17 with an additional investment for our schools of nearly £40m.
“We are also prioritising funding so we can continue to invest in our ongoing and ambitious programme of education reform, as well as protecting the budget for our FE sector and investing in an additional 2,500 apprenticeships.
“I am particularly pleased that this draft budget continues my commitment to breaking down the gap between poverty and low attainment and maintains additional funding for children eligible for free school meals through our Pupil Deprivation Grant.
“Not only that but it extends our Schools Challenge Cymru programme, which is already showing real signs of success, into a third year.
“Last week’s GCSE results – our best on record – are testament to the fact that Education in Wales really is on the up. This is a budget that will allow us to build on our progress and good work and deliver the first class education that learners in Wales deserve.”