Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
Last May, I announced the 40 secondary schools that had been identified as Pathways to Success Schools, so called because of the central role they will play in taking forward Schools Challenge Cymru.
More than a year has passed and, as promised, I am now in a position to publish the funding allocations associated with the programme. The table, which follows, provides details of both revenue and capital funding allocated to Pathways to Success Schools for the 2014/15 academic year. It also sets out the amount of revenue funding allocated to Regional Education Consortia for the purposes of capacity building and the provision of additional support to the schools, including through our Schools Challenge Cymru Advisers.
The funding allocated to support the individual improvement journeys of each of the Pathways to Success schools varies, and rightly so. Schools Challenge Cymru was designed to respond to a unique set of circumstances in each of the Pathways to Success Schools, acknowledging and building on strengths, while supporting them to respond to their challenges. Each school was therefore awarded funding to support the delivery of key priorities as set out in their individual School Development Plan - a comprehensive map of the next stage of the school’s improvement journey, reflecting their unique situational context and stage of development. These were scrutinised by the Schools Challenge Cymru Champions Group to ensure there was broad consistency in their quality, that resources were allocated where they would make greatest impact, and that targets struck the right balance between ambition and what was possible.
Having personally and regularly met with each of the Pathways to Success Schools and their Schools Challenge Cymru Advisers, I am confident that much has been delivered and much has been achieved. Each school is now firmly on their improvement journey. Relationships and collaborative working have being strengthened, not just across each Schools Challenge Cymru Cluster, but across a range of community partners. Decisive action is being taken and rapid progress is being driven by each school’s Accelerated Improvement Board.
The funding awarded directly to Consortia has been for the purposes of building capacity for improvement and driving collaboration within the system. The types of activity funded include investing in Improvement Hubs, developing school to school partnerships and the continuing professional development for leaders and practitioners across the country. This investment is designed to ensure that Schools Challenge Cymru has a positive impact on the wider education system, leading to an emphasis on school-led self improvement. Additional funding was also allocated to deliver a range of in-kind support for schools and regions, including: expertise – via the Schools Challenge Advisers and Champions Group; the celebration, evaluation and sharing of good practice; and projects and activities designed to foster collaboration and partnership working.
Whilst I made up to £20million available for Schools Challenge Cymru in 2014/15, the funding required totalled £16.35m. This amount reflects the levels of support identified by Pathways to Success Schools during year one of the programme, to begin securing them on their journeys of improvement, and to start building capacity for improvement more widely in the system.