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BBC Wales's Rhys Evans reports
"The claims over underfunding for Wales have been disputed"
 real 28k

Prof David Reynolds, government education advisor
"In Wales, we have older school buildings and an older teaching force that costs more per head"
 real 56k

Professor David Reynolds, government advisor
"The Lib-Lab government's explanation for the difference does not hold water"
 real 28k

Friday, 1 December, 2000, 13:26 GMT
Education gap with England widens
Classroom
Spending per pupil varies considerably across Wales
Education spending per pupil in Wales has fallen behind the average in England, according to a new report.

The statistics were revealed in the latest issue of Agenda, the journal published by the Institute of Welsh Affairs.

But Welsh Assembly Education Minister Jane Davidson disputed the figures.

She told BBC Wales's Dragon's Eye programme on Thursday that, if spending for London was removed from the equation, the statistics for Wales were 1% better than for English LEAs.

Government education advisor Professor David Reynolds claims that spending per pupil in Wales was formerly between two and five percentage points higher than the figure in England.

Welsh pupil
The gap with England has been disputed
But there is now a 4% gap between Wales and England - with average spending in Wales of 2,148 compared with 2,247 across the border.

There are also large spending variations between the Welsh unitary authorities - with some spending considerably less than others.

Under the current funding formula, the situation could become worse, according to the IWA report.

Professor Reynolds's investigation described the differences in education expenditure as "worrying".

"Recent spending announcements from the National Assembly do nothing to eliminate the discrepancy," he said.

"In Wales, you have factors such as older buildings and an older teaching force, which costs more per head.

"The scale of the Welsh underspend is so serious as to prompt real fears that Welsh schools can achieve the targets set for them, in both primary and secondary education," added Professor Reynolds, from Exeter University.

Local variations

For pre-school children, Wrexham spends 800 less per head than the Welsh average.

Blaenau Gwent council's expenditure on pupils above the age of sixteen is a full 500 lower than the mean figure for Wales.

Blaenau Gwent's schools perform worst of all Welsh education authorities in terms of their students' GCSE results.

In his report, Professor Reynolds also calls for more distinctive Welsh education policies as well as adopting the best practice from across the border.

In particular, Professor Reynolds believes that literacy and numeracy schemes in England should be implemented in Wales as soon as possible.

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