Whopper of the Day


Today's prize for the biggest whopper must go to the Policy Officer for the Liberal Democrats in Wales, Ben Lloyd. In an article on Waleshome he says:

When I started secondary school, in 1997 in Powys, there was barely a measureable spending gap between my school and those over the border in Herefordshire. When my sister took her GCSEs in the same school in 2009, that gap had risen to over £500. It has escalated to £600 since then.

WalesHome, 15 April 2011

We can read the figures for educational spending per child in 2009/10 for both Powys and Herefordshire in this document.

     •  Herefordshire spent £5,961 per child
     •  Powys spent £6,101 per child

Yes, Powys actually spent £140 per child more than Herefordshire, not £600 less.

So we have to wonder just what point the LibDems are trying to make. They want to suggest that education problems in Wales can be solved by simply spending more money. Maybe £600 per child more, maybe £2,500 per child more. But much smaller sums of money could be spent much more wisely by effectively targeting poor literacy ... and, as the LibDems demonstrate perfectly, poor numeracy.

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Siônnyn said...

A future Chancellor of the Exchequer, I would say! He has shown that he is at least as competent as Boy George.

We have to find a way to counter this lazy way some people have of using average expenditure in Wales and the rest of the UK to evaluate our services. The problem is that most people don't really understand numbers, so how do we do it in a way that even a LibDem can understand?

The whole idea of 'the funding gap' is a LibDem thing as well , is it not? The very notion suggests that we should be shadowing England in everything we do, which in itself proves that they still haven't really understood devolution.

Ben Lloyd said...

Okay, fair point. I have used the average national figures as proxies for the local figures. I should have been clearer that I was using the national figures.

It would appear I was fortunate enough to go to a school in a county that funded it above the Welsh average.

This faux pas on my behalf doesn’t undermine the wider point though, that for every school which is above the Welsh average, others are funded even further below the English average and that has to change.

Anonymous said...

Maybe....since the UK....indeed most of the western world is up to it's eyeballs in debt, that the lesser spend should be viewed as the objective rather than the opposite. Just a thought. :-)

MH said...

Thanks for replying, Ben. Yes, of course I knew what you intended to say; you came a cropper because you tried to personalize it in order to make it "relevant".

But I was making a rather more serious point than merely picking you up on your misapplied statistics. The performance of children at school does not correlate with the amount per head we spend. It is a red herring. There are plenty of instances where authorities that spend less get better results, and where authorities that spend more get worse results. What we spend per head tends to be a reflexion of the location and size of schools rather than how well children in those schools perform academically.

Your party, though it is not alone in doing so, is trying to provoke the sort of typical "knee-jerk" reaction that comes all too easily to politicians. You look at the problem as something to be solved by spending more money on it ... whether that is £600 more or £2,500 more.

Of course any additional resources will be gratefully received, especially by teachers and educationalists; but that's hardly surprising because it's their profession. What is needed is a much more targeted response, geared to the actual needs of individual children; as opposed to simply giving out more money to all children, or more money to children just because they are poor.

That's why the West Dumbartonshire approach holds much more promise of making a difference than a commitment to simply spend more money. We need to be making wiser use of any additional money we spend.

Siônnyn said...

Hats off to Ben for having the guts to reply.

But Ben, you are only young, so I suppose your faux pas is understandable, but when you have grasped the full complexities of Welsh politics - and especially the in-built disadvantage that the Westminster government has imposed on us, I'm sure that you will realise that your efforts will be more usefully employed in the cause of Plaid Cymru.

Anonymous said...

@sionnyn what a load of patronising guff. Maybe, just maybe, your narrow view of the world just isn't shared by everyone. or maybe i'm just too young to understand!

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