ASCL Cymru Conference
Funding was the recurring theme at the ASCL Cymru annual conference in Llandrindod Wells on 6-7 December, as members in Wales discussed the impact of a less-than-satisfactory budget settlement. In his address, incoming ASCL Cymru President Phil Whitcombe, head of Bryn Hafren school in the Vale of Glamorgan, renewed the call for a fair and transparent funding system.
He said: "Students in Wales already receive on average £600 less per head than those in England for their education. This is unacceptable and is potentially limiting the life chances of the students in our care.
"In ASCL Cymru, we share many aspects of the vision for education enshrined in the Learning Country but schools simply do not have the resources to turn the vision into a reality."
In his keynote address, ASCL President Brian Lightman set out ten challenges for the Welsh Assembly Government. Among them were:
clarify the role of LEAs in the provision of education services
develop a coherent and properly funded model of CPD for the entire school and college workforce
recognise that Wales does not need to do everything differently in order to have a distinctive education system.
The minister Jane Hutt addressed the conference on Friday, responding directly to some of Brian's points and offering to engage in further discussion with the association.
She stressed that she wanted to work in partnership with school and college leaders and ASCL Cymru to devise a system that was fit for purpose, through development of the National School Effectiveness Network.
While welcoming the principle of the network, ASCL Cymru Secretary Gareth Jones outlined some of the issued that needed to be resolved in order for it to work: "The challenge for the framework is to get all the levels of governance to agree as to each other's role and to collaborate with the other levels.
"The prospect of getting all LEAs to sing from the same hymn sheet is daunting to say the least."
Finally, at the conference ASCL Cymru launched its policy paper on the future of inspection in Wales, calling for a streamlined, more efficient Estyn inspection service. Copies are available on the website at www.ascl.org.uk
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