Will CSR impact on Wales’ plans to transform education?
Reacting to the Comprehensive Spending Review 2010, ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is anxious that the Chancellor’s announcement could put the brakes on ambitious plans afoot in Wales to transform the education landscape and give all 14 and 16 year olds opportunities to learn economically relevant skills.
Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: “In Wales, the majority of the education budget is determined by the National Assembly for Wales, not Westminster. Our main interest therefore lies in the CSR’s allocation to the Assembly as a devolved administration.
“Clearly, the budget allocated to the Assembly is a challenging one. We don’t know the fine details but it is clear that capital funding in particular faces a substantial reduction.”
The 40% cut to capital funding in particular raises serious concerns for post-16 education.
Under the Welsh Assembly Government’s Transformation agenda, colleges, local authorities, schools and private training providers are working on plans to realign the post-14/post-16 education landscape. The aim is to deliver a broader choice of study options with a particular focus on increasing the availability of vocational education to a wider range of students at all levels of ability at a lower cost whilst retaining high standards.
Most vocational skills cannot be taught in standard classrooms. Colleges operate engineering workshops, farms, hair and beauty salons, sports facilities, training restaurants and more in order to ensure that students have hands-on experiences that can be directly applied to the workplace.
Furthermore, in order to raise the accessibility of vocational opportunities, new facilities, new buildings and new estates form a key part of a number of the transformation plans.
John Graystone continued: “Colleges are all too aware that these are challenging times. But Wales’ economy desperately needs better educated citizens and a more skilled workforce.
“We are pleased that the Welsh Assembly Government has identified skills and schools as two of its three priority areas. Colleges in Wales remain hopeful that the Welsh Assembly Government’s draft budget to be published in November will enable growth in further education.”
Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
- ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 21 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk ColegauCymru / CollegesWales was known as ‘fforwm’ until autumn 2009.
- The Comprehensive Spending Review documents are available from http://hm-treasury.gov.uk/spend_sr2010_documents.htm
- The Welsh Assembly Government’s draft budget will be laid before the National Assembly on 17 November. In its response to the CSR, the WAG statement includes the following: “we are committed to protecting investment in schools, skills and healthcare, and committed to maintaining universal entitlements. The degree of protection for these areas will now be determined as we continue to develop our Draft Budget.” http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/firstminister/2010/101020spending/?lang=en