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Welsh grants 'disgrace'

SCHOOLS in Wales are to receive direct grants worth only a third of what their counterparts in England are getting from the Chancellor's extra millions, the National Union of Teachers claimed this week.

Primary schools in the principality with between 200 and 400 pupils are to receive pound;8,000 and secondary schools with between 600 and 1,200 pupils are to get pound;20,000, according to a formula agreed by the Welsh Assembly last week. The money is to be passed to schools, via local education authorities, by the end of this month.

Gethin Lewis, secretary of NUT Cymru, said that this was far less than schools in England will receive. Under plans announced two months ago, comparable primary schools in England will get pound;24,000 and comparable secondaries pound;70,000. The pound;50,000 difference for secondary schools was "a disgrace".

But Jane Davidson, Welsh education minister, said the NUT was "once again confused and not looking at the complete picture". The pound;15m for Welsh schools, whose allocation was agreed last week, was only a "topping-up" grant, she said. Most of the money going to schools in Wales went through the local authority revenue settlement, while in Englad there was more direct funding to schools through the standards fund.

Miss Davidson said figures published last week by the Assembly's statistical department showed that spending on Welsh schools compared well with spending in England. Average budgeted spending per pupil in Wales last year was pound;2,850, higher than in eight out of 10 English regions, and early signs were that budgets for school education would rise this year by 9 per cent.

But headteachers in Wales complained that the figures put out by the Assembly did not correspond with what happens on the ground. Somewhere between the Assembly and their schools the money disappears into a black hole, they said.

WHERE THE MONEY GOES

Schools in Wales will receive the following top-up grants via their local education authority this month:

Primary

Up to 50 pupils: pound;3,000

50-100 pupils: pound;4,000

100-200 pupils: pound;6,000

200-400 pupils: pound;8,000

400-plus pupils: pound;12,000

Secondary

Up to 600 pupils: pound;15,000

600-1,200 pupils: pound;20,000

1,201-plus pupils: pound;25,000

Special school: pound;5,000

Nursery school: pound;2,500

Pupil referral unit: pound;2,500


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