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Report will end the funding fog

The recently-released report of the Welsh Assembly's school funding committee will lead to significant improvements in the way schools in Wales are funded in future.

For a long time, and especially since I became Plaid Cymru's shadow education minister in 2003, I had been aware of the serious concerns of education professionals, unions, governors and parents surrounding the complexity and the level of funding for our schools in Wales.

This complexity and lack of transparency had become justifiably known as a funding fog. I was frequently told by parents and teachers that the budget for a particular school simply did not match the cost of providing the education their children received, nor could they explain different budgets for schools of similar size, even neighbours in the same county.

In June 2005, I proposed the motion on behalf of Plaid Cymru which led to the setting up of this cross-party committee. The motion was bitterly opposed by the Labour Assembly government.

I remain grateful to the opposition parties and independent members for their support in defeating New Labour because, without that support, the committee's report would never have materialised.

The welcome the report has subsequently received from the education community underlines the fact that, despite New Labour's objections, Plaid identified the major problems.

The government will be responding officially in September, and I am encouraged by the supportive tone of the minister's comments so far. The challenge remains, however, for our recommendations to be turned into guidance and law.

The recommendations, if taken up in full, will mean that the money a school receives will be more properly calculated to cover the true cost of providing the education our children deserve.

Janet Ryder AM Shadow Minister for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills National Assembly, Cardiff Write to TES Cymru, Sophia House, 28 Cathedral Road, Cardiff CF11 9LJ.

Email cymru@tes.co.uk. Fax 029 2066 0207

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