Saturday, 11 December 2010

Confusion Reigns !

This time the confusion seems to reign within the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills (DCELLS)...or does it?

Yesterday, Friday the 10th December 2010, was the closing date for bids for funding for Band A school building and improvement grants under the 21st Century Schools programme and many if not all local authorities will have submitted bids, some reasonable like Wrecsam's £23 million to Flintshire's £82 million. One thing that is sure is that not all these bids will be funded as Dr Chris Llewelyn explains. Those that will be funded will start in April 2012 until 2015 when Band B bids will be called for.

The predecessor funding formula for school building prior to April 2012, was the School Building Improvement Grant (SBIG) which delivered in 3 tranches with the third tranche being delivered in 2011/12, included in that tranche is the £4.2 million for the proposed Welsh Medium Primary school in Gwersyllt.

On Wednesday of this week the 8th December 2010, Directors of Education received the following email from the Capital Funding Branch of DCELLS:
The purpose of my e-mail is to advise that the Business Minister will be issuing a Written Statement over the course of the next few days and that statement will make reference to tranche 3 projects that have been approved and that these project will be deferred until financial year 2012-13.
However, you will be aware that we are currently arranging meetings with Directors to discuss all transition projects including T3. Decisions on how we meet our commitments in line with budget availability will be made once those discussions have

So it would appear that the Tranche 3 SBIG funding is being deferred until 2012/13 which is also the year 21st Century Schools is supposed to commence,so is the 21st Century School Programme being deferred for a year as well?

Now we all know that Leighton Andrews is a shrewd operator and is this a move to re-direct some capital funding to subsidise University tuition fees for Welsh students because of the funding gap? Any cut backs to school building capital will undoubtedly be sidestepped by Leighton and blamed on the Westminster coalition's Comprehensive Spending Review. Blaming the deferrment of Tranche 3 of SBIG on Westminster will not wear, the SBIG funding was allocated at the start of the programme 3 years or more ago, even before the recession. There is no reason to defer SBIG T3, as the Minister has already allocated £478 million for capital expenditure on schools over the next 3 years.

We need answers to some questions...before the recess!

UPDATE - Too late; recess starts Monday 13th December 2010 until the 9th January...nice one Mrs Hutt, release bad news when Assembly members are not in Cardiff.

7 comments:

No No No said...

This could be a victory for campaigners against the proposed new Welsh Medium Primary School.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

A bit cynical but obviously you have knowledge of how the Welsh Labour Party operates

Plaid Whitegate said...

Does wrecsam have a strong enough voice lobbying for our schools? Time will tell

La Pasionaria said...

Lesley Griffiths is Deputy Minister for Leighton Andrews and she is against the Welsh School, no marks for guessing there has been political interference here.

MH said...

To me, there certainly seems to be no reason not to proceed with funding the commitments already made for SBIG/T3. In fact the draft budget shows capital expenditure for the department as a whole going up from £157m this year to £173m in 2011-12 ... but then falling to £161m and 144m in the two following years. This is one of the few instances where the figure went up rather than down, and I would have guessed that this would be to reflect the fact that these commitments had already been made.

This email therefore seems very strange indeed and I, like you, will look forward to the written statement. Leighton Andrews clearly said that he would fund the tuition fee rebate by top slicing the HEFCW teaching grant; so if he is trying a back-door means of supplementing this to make his sums add up, he is going to look like a right fool.

Hett's Handbag said...

La Pasionaria aka Plaid Gwersyllt could be accused of political interference on a number of issues.

The only way a Welsh Medium Primary school could work is if it was built in Llay to cater for demand from Flintshire.

Building this school would be a huge waste of money

Anonymous said...

Building this school would be a huge waste of money

Local Labour activists finally let the mask slip. No pretence this time that, "were not against Welsh education but..."
No pretence here that its all about protecting green public spaces is there.

Anyone remember, "I'm not racist but..."