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Welsh Lib Dem Pupil Premium making a difference

December 11, 2013 3:30 PM

Education Minister Huw Lewis has warned schools that if Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) money is not spent according to guidelines then it will be clawed back.

It follows concerns from several quarters that the grant, which was introduced as a result of Welsh Liberal Democrat budget negotiations, could be used for purposes other than that which it was intended.

An extra £35m was put into the scheme for the coming year which means schools will receive an extra £918 for each pupil entitles to free school meals. It is intended to be used to try and bridge the achievement gap which has traditionally existed between these from poorer backgrounds and their peers.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell says it is only right that the money should be spent for the purpose it was intended

"The grant follows the example set by our colleagues in England who introduced the Pupil Premium there. Funding in Wales lags some way behind, and this money will go some way toward trying to address the inequalities within the system and give every pupil a fair chance to achieve their potential.

"It is unfortunate that some people have not understood the reasoning behind this. Just a couple of weeks ago the Labour Assembly Member for Pontypridd actually wrote a letter to the press saying that he was going to look into the possibility of some of the PDG money being used to cover the cost of nursery education which his colleagues in RCT are determined to decimate.

"Hopefully he will heed the Minister's words and grasp what is happening and in future be a little more careful in the messages he puts out."

Mr Lewis says new guidelines will be issued shortly and Headteachers will be expected to follow best practice. It comes as an Estyn report stresses the need for schools to work together, along with consortia and local authorities to ensure they share best practice.

RCT Welsh Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager Karen Roberts commented

"The Estyn report also shows that the gap is narrowing between learners who are eligible for free school meals and those who aren't. This shows that pups are benefiting from the Welsh Lib Dem policy and also that there is a raised awareness in schools of the issue.

"As a school governor I look forward to seeing the guidelines the Minister has promised, and hope that they will not be too strict that they stifle any innovation."