Welsh Government cut funding to education initiatives

Two major Welsh educational initiatives will not be given financial backing by the Welsh Government.

Both Teach First, and Schools Challenge Cymru, two schemes designed to further education in underprivileged areas, will not be granted funding past 2017, despite contrasting results.

The news comes after the Welsh Government’s draft budget saw confirmation of a 1.9 per cent cut to education.

Teach First Cymru, a teacher training program aimed placing university graduates in underprivileged schools, will be given no further funding beyond its current crop of participants.

The organisation, which is listed as a charity, had hoped to receive financial backing from the Welsh Government, after a review earlier in the year had appeared to show positive results.

The enterprise has so far seen 158 graduates move into schools across Wales since 2001, costing around £3million pounds.

In spite of the setback, the organisation remains confident it can gain the funding needed to extend its program, claiming to still be in talks with the Welsh Government over possible funding for 2018.

It is expected that pressure on the budget has been the reason for the refusal.

Meanwhile, Schools Challenge Cymru, the Welsh Government’s flagship education improvement policy, will end next summer after 3 years.

Launched in 2014, Schools Challenge Cymru was designed to support schools in disadvantaged areas by pledging £20million a year to 40 “Pathways to Success” secondary schools.

The policy, which was based upon the similar “London Challenge”, saw initial progress, with one of its main advocates, Professor Mel Ainscow, last year writing: ‘Overall, the picture for the Pathways to Success schools is beyond my expectations. Indeed, neither the London nor Manchester Challenges made the same progress after just one year.’

However, a report published this July appeared to show that only a quarter of the Pathway to Success schools had made a notable improvement, leading to doubts over the projects sustainability.

A spokesman for the National Union of Teachers Cymru stated that there was little surprise at the programs dismissal, stating: ‘While no-one would want to see such a significant amount of money invested in a project that doesn’t deliver, there are questions to be asked about whether Schools Challenge Cymru has been given the necessary time to prove itself.’

Despite the cuts, the 2017/18 budget is expected to see an additional £30million pounds being granted to higher education.