Warning over grant system complexity

7th August 2009 at 01:00
Minister told simplification is needed to allow teachers to get on with their jobs

The Assembly government must simplify the education grants system to allow schools and colleges to get on with teaching, according to a report published this week.

An inquiry by the Assembly's finance committee heard "endless complaints" about "every aspect" of the grants system - from a lack of information to excessive paperwork.

As TES Cymru reported in March, teaching unions told the cross-party panel that schools and colleges could be losing out on thousands of pounds worth of extra funding because the grant system is too confusing and bureaucratic.

There could be up to 100 different grants available for education in Wales, and not even the Assembly government knows how many there are.

The committee's report makes seven recommendations on how to make the system more accessible and transparent.

It says education minister Jane Hutt should make a list of all the grants available for education and publish it on the internet so schools and colleges can see what they can apply for.

It says Wales's 22 local authorities should do the same for the education grants they provide, as well as publishing the quantity and values of the grants they receive and how much they pass on to their schools.

The report suggests moving to a system with fewer, larger grants, but also recommends that the Government introduces a small grant scheme for amounts under pound;10,000 as a "matter of urgency".

It also says the Government should make it clear what will happen when a grant ends, and suggests the objective should be met by existing funding streams.

The Assembly government welcomed the report and said it would respond in due course.

Rex Phillips, Wales organiser of the NASUWT, said: "While there is clearly a need to rationalise the number of grants available to schools, it is important there should be no reduction in overall quantum."

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