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Welsh heads protest at funding snubs

The English get all the best deals, say senior staff in Wales who are about to tell their education minister that they have had enough. Alison Brace reports

WELSH headteachers will tell their education minister today that they are fed up with being denied access to crucial funding and new initiatives which are already available to their English counterparts.

Delegates at the annual conference of the Welsh branch of the Secondary Heads Association will tell Janet Davidson they are being left out in the cold on issues ranging from leadership training for heads to grants for teachers to buy PCs.

"This has been building up for some time, and it has now come to a head," said Brian Rowlands, secretary of SHA Wales, which is holding its conference in Llandrindod Wells, Powys. "It is so frustrating for us that there are many initiatives under way in England that are either late in coming to Wales or that don't happen at all."

Delegates want cash to go directly to schools. "Although we believe in a separate identity for Wales, we have to deliver the same national curriculum, the same pay scales and the same training and so on, so we need the same funding mechanisms," said Mr Rowlands.

Last week, Education Secretary David Blunkett announced pound;250 million in direct grants to English schools, giving a typical primary pound;20,000 and a secondary pound;60,000. No equivalent grants have yet been announced for Welsh schools.

SHA Wales, which represents 90 per cent of the 225 Welsh secondary heads, have been led to understand that its members will not be able to use the new National College for School Leadership. But Jane Davidson has said Wales will "take opportuniies to be associated with the college when it opens in Spring 2002" - if its activities fit in with Welsh developments.

Pauline Thomas, deputy head of Monmouth comprehensive school and one of SHA's council representatives for Wales, said this had been another blow for teacher morale.

"We are still smarting from the fact that all teachers in English schools have been able to access grants of up to pound;500 towards the cost of personal computers, an opportunity which did not apply to teachers in Wales," she said.

Another bone of contention is funding for heads, deputies and assistant heads.

In England, pay is awarded to staff who are promoted by means of a specific grant. In Wales it is part of the general funding to local authorities.

Meanwhile Jane Davidson has hit back at claims that Wales spends less on its pupils than England. Professor David Reynolds of Exeter University said last week that Wales was spending 4.7 per cent less than England on its secondary school pupils.

Using figures from the Audit Commission he also claimed said that Wales spent 4.3 per cent less on early years children, 3 per cent less on primary pupils and 7.1 per cent less on 16-plus pupils.

But officials at the National Assembly for Wales said that Professor Reynolds had forgotten to take extra funding for London schools out of the equation.

Ms Davidson said: "If you remove London from the equation, Wales spends an average of pound;2,660 per pupil while England spends pound;2,630. There is no funding gap." An extra pound;9.9m has been set aside for education in Wales next year, some of which should go directly to schools.

No training salaries, FE Focus, 33

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