(Title Image: BBC Wales)
Headteachers warn of “quiet crisis” in school funding
Headteachers told BBC Wales that they fear the prospect of teacher redundancies, larger class sizes and lower standards due to pressure on budgets as councils finalise their budgets for 2018-19.
One headteacher said that funding problems in the NHS were often high profile, but the same thing couldn’t be said for schools, with unqualified staff being used for lesson preparation and assessment in some primary schools. Other headteachers were concerned about inconsistency in funding between different local authorities.
Levels of financial reserves held by schools have consistently fallen since 2011-12 but the Welsh Government believe some schools were retaining high reserve balances and blamed austerity.
Police want extra cash to cover major events
The Chief Constable of South Wales Police, Matt Jukes, has called for additional money to fund policing major events in Cardiff after an increase in costs due to a string of terror attacks and plots in the UK through 2017.
Venues already pay for policing costs inside a venue itself but contribute nothing towards the cost of policing the area around a venue. It comes as rugby fans were criticised for their behaviour during the 2017 Autumn internationals and fans themselves criticised long waits outside the Principality Stadium due to additional security checks.
Education Secretary voices support for teachers’ pay and conditions powers
Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), claimed the status of teachers could increase when powers over their pay and working conditions are devolved to Wales in 2019.
Teaching unions have spoken out against devolution of the powers due to fears of Welsh teachers getting a worse deal than in England, but the Education Secretary said, “We also have to look at this in the round; there has never been a better opportunity to develop a truly national model that enshrines a national approach to supporting and elevating the profession.”
A proposal has been put forward which would see Ministers, employers (councils) and teaching unions form a committee to make proposals for pay and conditions.
UKIP AMs “asked to donate cash”
See also: UKIP at a crossroads
David Rowlands AM (UKIP, South Wales East) told BBC Wales that the party have asked their 5 AMs to donate cash to help meet a £100,000 funding target within three weeks which, if isn’t met, could put the party’s future in doubt.
The AMs said he was willing to make a voluntary donations, but it’s understood other UKIP AMs want a review of funding for Assembly elections before committing. The party have been beset by financial problems since being founds to have misused EU funds and losing a libel case; this hasn’t been helped by multiple leadership changes since the departure of Nigel Farage.
New Auditor General nominated
On March 14th, AMs approved the nomination of Adrian Compton – a current business director at the National Assembly – to succeed Huw Vaughan Thomas as Auditor General of Wales. The appointment needs to be approved by the Queen with June his expected starting date.
The shortlisting and confirmation process was overseen by the Finance Committee, whose Chair, Simon Thomas AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales) said, “The panel and the Finance Committee was impressed with Adrian’s insight and experience, and feel he is well-equipped to continue and develop the critical work undertaken by the Wales Audit Office.”