AN MP HAS written to Wales' outgoing first minister urging them to "closely examine the support available to schools in North Wales."

Despite it being a devolved issue, Dr James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, took the action following concerning letters sent to parents in Denbighshire, Flintshire and Conwy from headteachers outlining cuts. 

He has also written to the Welsh education minister, Jeremy Miles.

Dr Davies visited Rhyl High School last week to speak to the headteachers of both Rhyl and Prestatyn High Schools about the pressures they are facing. He also spoke with the leadership of a primary school.

In his letter to the Welsh Government ministers, he implores them to do the same.

Dr Davies referred to the £3.5 billion boost to schools’ budgets in England next year, and said he “struggles to understand why schools are facing such unfair pressure in North Wales” when Wales receives £1.20 for every £1 spent on public services in Wales. 

His letter to the Welsh Government Minister states: “I am writing out of deep concern for the future of our children in North Wales. Recently, headteachers of schools in Denbighshire sent out the letter to parents. I am aware that schools in the neighbouring counties of Flintshire and Conwy have also sent a similar letter and that the issues raised reflect the situation across Wales.

“I am sure you will agree, the letter is extremely worrying – both in terms of its content but also in view of the fact that the headteachers of Denbighshire felt that they were unable to secure help they need through more conventional methods.

“I know you will agree that all children deserve the best start in life. They are our future and their education is paramount.

“While Denbighshire County Council have increased some elements of schools’ budgets by five per cent to account for inflation, they have at the same time applied an across the board three per cent reduction. This is placing schools in an impossible and desperate situation.

“As you will be aware, the UK Government is increasing schools’ budgets by £3.5 billion next year in England, and funding will be at the highest ever level in real terms per pupil by the next academic year, as measured by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

"School funding is set to rise faster than forecast inflation in both 2023/24 and 2024/25.

“You will also know that in terms of devolved matters, for every £1 spent on public services in England, the Welsh Government receives £1.20.


“In other words, based on the funding provided from UK Government, I struggle to understand why schools are facing such unfair pressure in North Wales. Clearly, Denbighshire County Council does carry some of the accountability in this respect and I will be writing to them separately."

Dr Davies added: “On Friday, I was pleased to meet the headteachers of both Rhyl and Prestatyn High Schools, to discuss the challenges they are facing in detail. I would ask that you kindly consider doing likewise.

“I was given a disturbing account of the reality of the financial situation they are facing, particularly in the context of ongoing post-pandemic impacts on families and children. Unless additional funding can be made available to them, they face: redundancies among teaching and other staff; the winding down of exclusion avoidance efforts; reduced assistance to tackle widespread and sometimes significant behavioural and mental health issues (while facing inadequate CAMHS support); the stretched management of rising safeguarding concerns; a lack of capacity to assist parents and families; and reduced opportunities to support the most vulnerable educationally. A reduction to all of these non-statutory services will have a negative impact on the statutory education of all children.

“Meanwhile, schools are facing a plethora of challenges simultaneously, including: teachers’ pay rises, which are not fully-funded from the centre; high supply teacher costs (made necessary because the budget to hire full time teachers is not assured); the costs of ALN reforms and the new curriculum; the loss of school beat officers; behavioural and attendance challenges attributed to the pandemic; increased workloads for teachers with associated issues of recruitment and retention; and inflationary costs in regard to energy, maintenance, cleaning, transport, access to sports facilities, and other Service Level Agreements.

“Schools are a front-line service, accessible to families day in day out. Teaching staff are in a unique position – in contrast to other services, they cannot put children on a waiting list for support or turn their back on a struggling parent; they have to be able to react to situations as they present themselves and not weeks or months down the line when they have capacity. Early intervention can be important.

“Public spending will always be finite and I feel very strongly that we must focus on the 'bread and butter' issues. You will be aware that concerns have been raised over the cost of some of the Welsh Government’s recent priorities. However, from an education perspective alone, providing adequate resources to schools must surely involve re-examining the need for expenditure on GwE and the decision to remove means-testing for free school meals, for example.

“The real issue at stake here is not finances but the future of children. I would ask that you closely examine the support available to schools in North Wales and invite you to meet headteachers with me to discuss why this is needed and how it can be achieved.”

Dr Davies also raised the matter in Education Questions in the House of Commons, again referring to the fact that schools in England are receiving the highest funding ever per pupil in real terms. 

He asked the Minister of State for School, Damian Hinds MP, to outline what discussions he has had with the Welsh Government to ensure schools in Wales also see the benefit of that funding.

Responding, the Minister said:  “I regret that, as education is a devolved matter, the Labour party is in charge of education in Wales. It really saddens me to hear of children in my Hon. Friend’s constituency suffering from its mismanagement of that system, despite the great work of brilliant and inspiring teachers in Wales. 

“He is absolutely right that in England, under this Government, funding is at a record level. Meanwhile, in Wales, I am sad to say that education standards are not only the lowest in the UK, but lower than the OECD average.”