Completed petition Reintroduce educational support funding for MEAS and the TES to local authorities
Neath Port Talbot UNISON branch call on Welsh Government to reverse the decision to cut educational support funding to Minority Ethnic Achievement Service (MEAS) and the Traveller Education Service (TES).
The Cabinet Secretary for Education has essentially withdrawn funding for these groups under the education improvement grant (EIG). Research shows that Roma and Traveller children have the lowest attainment rates of any ethnic group in Wales and the EIG is designed to support their learning and raise attainment.
In NPT we have a percentage of travellers and minority ethnic groups in our schools examples of which are Margam and Briton Ferry who rely on this funding. The council has evidence to show support workers provide a fantastic service engaging with these ‘hard to reach’ learners. We want all young people to be able to reach their potential and support workers are able to champion the needs of all learners, particularly the vulnerable or disadvantaged. They build strong relationships with families, schools and the communities they serve. This reduction in funding will be devastating and job cuts are already being discussed with the trades unions. Any redundancy costs will need to be funded from an already stretched budget provision.
We urge Welsh Government to consult with UNISON and local authorities. Welsh Government must complete an Equality Impact Assessment to ensure monies are allocated to those in need.
It is clear that the funding published in the provisional settlement to support these vulnerable learners, makes it abundantly clear that there are zero transfers in the 2018/19 in respect of education. The assertion that it was cut from the Education Improvement Grant and contributed to the additional £170m which went into the settlement for the education and social care is academic. This simply had the effect of reducing the overall cut to local authority funding. Welsh Government has seen Revenue Support Grant cut but claimed these two cuts make an increase in funding. They have unequivocally removed the grant with no recompense within the RSG. Although £5M has been made available for Cardiff, Swansea and Newport for 2018/19 it provides no continuity for those councils beyond those financial year. The cut to this funding and the lack of information about future provision has placed directors of education in an invidious position. Equality of opportunity for these pupils cannot be achieved without targeted support previously funded from the EIG. It is clear that Welsh Government wishes to allocate funding directly to schools to assist with their overhaul funding pressures, however, some of this funding could have been allocated to local authorities to maintain specialist support over the coming year. Failure for Welsh Government to address specific grant funding will lead to an equality impact disproportionally affecting gypsy traveller and minority ethnic groups.
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