WELSH LABOUR this week (Apr 18) said the Assembly elections on May 5 represented an important £200m choice for Welsh parents.
During an election visit on Monday Welsh Labour’s Julie James contrasted her party’s pledge to invest a minimum of £100m in Welsh schools over the next term with the Welsh Conservatives ‘secret plan’ to turn every school in Wales into an academy.
She said the Tory plan would cost more than £100m and said the election was a clear £200m choice between the two main parties.
A plan in England to turn every school into an academy was announced in the March UK budget. It was also later revealed that the cost of converting each school into an academy was £66,000 per school. A similar move in Wales would cost £109m in legal fees and other costs.
Speaking on Monday (Apr 18), she said the plan would be ‘a disaster’ for Welsh Schools coming on top of a 12% cut to education and local government budgets that the Welsh Conservatives already had planned.
Julie James said: “Welsh Labour has been very clear about its ambitions for Welsh schools over the next Assembly term. We want to build a world class curriculum and teacher training system and move the Welsh teaching profession onto an all-Masters footing.
“To support this plan we will invest a minimum of £100m of additional funding in our schools over the next five years. This contrasts clearly with the secret Tory plan to turn every school into an academy, as they have done in England, needlessly wasting millions of pounds in the process.
“The UK Government have already admitted the cost of converting each school to an academy is £66,000 per school to cover the legal fees and other costs of the change.
“Indeed, we know that just days after the Chancellor’s plan was announced, solicitors and lawyers were already sending out letters to Headteachers offering to assist schools with their plan
“That is exactly what will happen here in Wales, we will see millions of pounds being leached out of Welsh schools. To convert every one of the more than 1,600 schools we have in Wales to an academy would cost more than £100m.
“So this election is a clear choice between a Labour Government led by Carwyn Jones that would invest in frontline teaching and learning and a Tory Government that would spend millions on a wasteful reorganisation.
“Of course this comes on top of the Tories existing plans to slash 12% off education and local government budgets meaning schools in Wales would be hit with crippling cuts at the same time as getting a huge legal bill through the post.
“The choice at this election is clear, it’s between a Welsh LabourGovernment that would invest an additional £100m in frontline funding or a Tory UKIP alliance that would waste £100m on academies and legal fees.
“This would have a devastating impact on Welsh school budgets; increase the workloads of our teachers and support staff and imperil the major curriculum changes schools are already planning.
“There is new momentum in Welsh education thanks to the reforms put in place by the Welsh Labour Government. Last year we saw record GCSE results, two thirds of Challenge Schools improving their results and the closing of the poverty attainment gap at every key stage of education.
“A Tory Government aided by their UKIP allies would imperil that progress and come at a huge cost to the futures of our young people.”