Conservatives have questioned the Welsh Government’s announcement that they will recruit 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants next year.
They said that the recruitment target for teachers in Wales last year was missed by 35%, meaning almost 600 posts out of some 1,600 were left vacant.
The Welsh Government said that they were targeting extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages.
They also said they would provide an additional £29 million to schools to boost support for learners at crucial stages in their education from September.
But Suzy Davies MS, the Conservatives’ Shadow Minister for Education, questioned where the teachers would come from after the education sector in Wales had struggled to fill existing provision.
“There are hundreds of teaching posts available in Wales because the recruitment target for last year was missed by an incredible 35 percent, meaning almost 600 posts out of some 1,600 were left vacant,” she said.
“This is a laudable ambition, but the Minister must clarify if the 900 posts include or will be in addition to the missing 600.
“Welsh Conservatives recognise that work-life balance and that years of underfunding schools undermine any attempts Welsh Government makes to attract and retain teachers.
“That’s why we have committed to degree apprenticeships in teaching and reforming the way schools are funded so that those thinking of starting – or switching to – teaching can do so with the confidence that it’s the right thing for them.
“Teaching is such a valuable role in Wales where we need more driven individuals to help our existing, committed workforce to raise our children’s attainment, aspirations and healthy outlook.”
The Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, will host the Welsh Government’s daily press conference at 12:30 today, where she will announce plans for schools in September.
“Our education family in Wales has met the challenge of the pandemic together, ensuring that our young people are supported with their well-being and learning,” she said.
“I now want to ensure schools and pupils have the support they need by recruiting extra staff, to support the recovery phase and continue to raise standards as part of our national mission of education reform.
“We must never lower our expectations for any of our young people, no matter their background. That is why thousands and thousands more learners in Wales now enter and gain a science GCSE, it is why we now outperform other nations for A-Level results, and it is why thousands more are studying and succeeding at higher levels.
“I know that teachers and parents across the country share my determination not to lose that momentum. This extra investment and targeted support will ensure that the impact of time away from school over recent months is minimised.
“This is not a short-term fix. I am guaranteeing this money, extra staff and support for the whole of next year.
“Alongside the new curriculum, we are moving purposefully into a new era for education. One where each learner benefits from a broad and balanced education.
“Together, we will continue to raise standards for all, reduce the attainment gap and ensure we have a system that is a source of pride and public confidence.”