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Drive the rats out of our schools

It seems that Wales is very much the poor relation in the UK when it comes to the state of our school buildings. In fact, it is nothing short of a national disgrace. And while officials continue to argue over funding, teachers and children continue to work and learn in some dire conditions akin to Victorian Britain.

Who would have thought rats would be regular visitors to our schools in this day and age? Of course, there are examples of state-of-the-art school buildings being built across Wales. However it is, like most things, under local authority control and very much down to luck of the draw.Is that just?

It does not help that the so-called funding fog in Wales makes it almost impossible to actually pinpoint if every school in England has more spent on maintenance and renovation. At a glance, the pound;100,000 figure arrived at by the Welsh Local Government Association does appear to be a huge differential. But so do the figures arrived at this week by the Welsh Tories on per-pupil funding gaps between England and Wales.

The Tories' research concludes that Wales spends pound;129 a year less than England every year per pupil. But it is a mystery as to how they actually managed to find their way through the fog to arrive at this conclusion.

Assembly government officials have always denied that English pupils have more spent on them and say the two countries cannot be compared. When is all this going to end? Our education minister Carwyn Jones is all for making funding transparent but he is not so keen on reviewing the Barnett formula.

This week Mr Jones has had to bow to democracy after Assembly members voted unanimously for a Richard-style commission into public funding. He claims a review of the formula, which dictates how much we can spend on public services, might not produce the results we all want to hear. However, at the very least it will end all the bickering and buck-passing over funding that currently blights progress.

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