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Saturday, 20 November, 1999, 12:52 GMT
Good report on primary school class sizes
Winning the battle to reduce class sizes

Assembly education secretary Rosemary Butler has outlined her commitment to investment in schools in a speech to the Governors Wales Annual Conference.

As well as proposals for the Assembly's budget, she drove home the need for investment in "unfit" school buildings and reported progress on the reduction of primary school sizes.

Assembly Secretary for Education and Children Rosemary Butler
Among proposals for the Assembly's 2001-02 budget - which are still to be agreed - she included an additional 75m for local authority revenue funding of education in the coming year with a further 80m the year after.

"The feedback I have from schools is that the increase in resources so far has enabled them to start to repair the damage to provision resulting from tight local government settlements under the previous government.

"But they go on to say that there is still some way to go and, as yet, the LEAs and schools have not begun, in any substantial way, to enhance provision in the way needed to address all aspects of the standards agenda.

"I hope the further increases in 2000-01 and 2001-02 will enable this to happen and enable schools to plan with confidence."

At present it looks as though authorities are not giving priority to capital investment, despite their assertions that schools need urgent attention
Education secretary Rosemary Butler

But, she went on to say, the issues of making inroads in the "backlog" of work to ensure school buildings are in a fit state to deliver the national curriculum, was more difficult.

"Overall plans for the next two years include 145m for capital investment in school buildings.

"That level of resources is significant. I am concerned that all local authorities should use those resources to the full for investment in schools and also use capital receipts, private sector partnerships and revenue funding to make maximum impact on the problem.

"At present it looks as though authorities are not giving priority to capital investment, despite their assertions that schools need urgent attention."

On the issue of primary school class sizes, Mrs Butler said "good progress" had been made.

"The class size count carried out on September 28, shows that virtually all reception classes in Wales meet the statutory limit of 30 pupils or less.

"I am confident that the increased levels of grant funding for next year and beyond - 13.5m in each year - will ensure that all infant classes are reduced to 30 or fewer by September 2001.

"At the same time, I expect the increases in general funding for schools will continue to bring down the size of junior school classes.
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See also:
05 Nov 99 |  Wales
Fewer pupils taught in large classes
30 Sep 99 |  Wales
Parents and pupils angry over crumbling school
07 Oct 99 |  Wales
Butler announces performance-related pay

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