An open mind on funding

15th June 2007 at 01:00
I was pleased that last week, (TES Cymru, June 8) confirmed my intention to concentrate on bringing together initiatives and policies to develop a strategic vision for education and lifelong learning in Wales.

It is vital that together we bed down key programmes that have been developed through extensive consultation and that are supported by the broader education and lifelong learning community in Wales.

A key priority for me is to listen to teachers, heads and their unions and, from day one, to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of all staff in the schools and colleges.

I am committed to open and constructive dialogue with the unions and have made a round of meetings with them an early priority. School effectiveness, in its widest sense, will be a key priority. Success will be dependent on positive and productive relationships between teachers, heads, local authorities and the Assembly government.

I do feel, however, that I should clarify my position on Barnett. I have said that while the Assembly government does not believe that it should unilaterally initiate any review of the Barnett formula, it will co-operate with any review that the Assembly's finance committee might wish to initiate.

I believe the finance committee is likely to find strong evidence that the Barnett formula has served Wales well in providing stable and predictable funding which is above the UK average, and that not all the potential alternatives to Barnett will serve as well.

We will reserve our final position until we know how the committee wants to proceed.

If it goes with this review, I would encourage the education community to engage fully in providing its experience of the funding arrangements in Wales.

As the new minister of education, I am committed to ensuring that our arrangements for funding schools are as fair and transparent as possible.

I will ensure that I have a full dialogue with everyone involved to find the right way forward.

Carwyn Jones AM

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