Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, comments on the Welsh government’s announcement that it will invest £25m in the coming financial year to help operate and develop Community Focused schools.
“The Education Minister is quite right to draw attention to the effect that poverty and disadvantage can have on the attainment of learners in schools across Wales. It is a nationwide scandal that we have so many young people still living in poverty.
“While any investment in education is to be welcomed, we now need to see more detail from the Welsh government as it appears that more than 80% of this funding is intended for improving storage facilities and security and lighting at school sites. It is very hard to see how that helps to tackle poverty.
“The important part of this funding is an expansion in the provision of Family Engagement Officers, whose role is to tackle inequality and absence issues, and a trial of Community Managers, who can link up disadvantaged learners with other agencies.
“These two elements seem like very worthwhile initiatives but they are funded from just £4.9m of the £25m announced today and this money also includes an unspecified amount towards research on educational attainment.
“The devil will be in the detail and we look forward to hearing more from the government on how spending £20m on what are essentially capital improvement projects at Welsh schools will help poor and disadvantaged learners.”