Y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg

Children, Young People, and Education Committee

20/01/2022

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Buffy Williams MS
James Evans MS
Jayne Bryant MS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Ken Skates MS
Laura Anne Jones MS
Sioned Williams MS

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Huw Morris Cyfarwyddwr, Sgiliau, Addysg Uwch a Dysgu Gydol Oes, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director, Skills, Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, Welsh Government
Jeremy Miles MS Gweinidog y Gymraeg ac Addysg
Minister for Education and the Welsh Language
Owain Lloyd Cyfarwyddwr y Gymraeg ac Addysg, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director of Education and the Welsh Language, Welsh Government

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Michael Dauncey Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Naomi Stocks Clerc
Clerk
Sarah Bartlett Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Tom Lewis-White Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The committee met by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:30. 

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Bore da a chroeso i gyfarfod o'r Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg heddiw.

Good morning and welcome to this meeting of the Children, Young People and Education Committee today.

I'd like to welcome Members to the meeting of the Children, Young People and Education Committee. The public items of this meeting are being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, with all participants joining by video conference. The Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Aside from the procedural adaptation relating to conducting proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements of committees remain in place. The meeting is bilingual and simultaneous translation from Welsh to English is available. We've received no apologies for this meeting today. Are there any declarations of interest from Members? I see there are none, fine. Oh, Sioned.

Ie, jest i ddweud bod fy ngŵr yn gweithio i Brifysgol Abertawe.

Yes, just to say that my husband works for Swansea University.

Diolch yn fawr, Sioned. Finally, if I drop out of the meeting for any reason, I propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.22, that Ken Skates MS temporarily chairs while I try to rejoin. 

2. Craffu ar Gyllideb Ddrafft Llywodraeth Cymru 2022-23—sesiwn dystiolaeth 2
2. Scrutiny of the Welsh Government Draft Budget 2022-23—evidence session 2

So, we'll move on to the first item on our agenda, which is scrutiny of the Welsh Government's draft budget 2022-23, and this is our second evidence session. We have got with us today the Minister and some of his officials. I'd like to welcome Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Owain Lloyd, director of education and the Welsh language, and Huw Morris, group director, skills, higher education and lifelong learning. Thank you for joining us this morning. Members will have a number of questions to ask you for the scrutiny of the budget. I'll just start with some general questions, really, about how the ongoing pandemic has affected the wider Government's approach to setting the budget and to what extent you're satisfied that you have enough resources to meet your objectives, particularly with those additional commitments in the programme for government that are relevant to your portfolio.

Diolch, Cadeirydd, am y cyfle i drafod y gyllideb ddrafft gyda'r pwyllgor y bore yma.

Thank you, Chair, for the opportunity to discuss this draft budget with the committee this morning.

In terms of the effect on the budget of the overall pandemic, Wales in 2020-21 and in this financial year has received, obviously, additional allocations from the UK Government to deal with the many, many challenges that COVID has brought right across the spread of Government and economic and social activity, and many of those have benefited my portfolio. But, those consequentials aren't recurring, so they were, in a sense, one-off additions to the budget to deal with the emerging picture in each of those years. And in the spending review, as you will know, the UK Government didn't specifically separate out any additional allocations for COVID response. So, the ongoing, continued costs, of which clearly there are many, have had to be met right across the Government from the overall settlement. So, as part of the multi-year strategy, there's a new approach to maximising, if you like, the available funding, mindful partly of that changed context. So, from the 2023-24 financial year, the Wales reserves are going to be used to manage that in-year set of challenges.

We have all felt across the Government the fairest way to allocate money to the various functions that we have—that applies to education—is through our partners. That's the fairest way of putting them in a position where they have the continued support from us rather than holding back funds just in case, if you like, within departments. So, we're not anticipating making significant additional allocations between draft budget and final budget. Essentially, we've deployed all the available funding. There might be some elements at the margin, but that's the basic picture.

With regard to PFG commitments, I do think the draft budget provides the resources for delivering that. The programme for government enshrined in many ways many elements of the education reform journey that we are on, and which we're expanding—I'm sure we'll come on to talk about many aspects of that—but the resource and capital budget for education this year stands at £2.5 billion for 2022-23, which is £622 million, roughly 33 per cent, when compared against the revised baseline. And there are some specific commitments in the budget that relate very specifically to programme for government commitments. So, there's additional funding for additional learning needs. There's about £37 million in the first year. It tapers after that. Recruit, Recover and Raise Standards, which has been a really important part of our response to COVID, is in that category of being an ongoing need without there being ongoing funding, if you like. So, we have found the funding to continue that even on a tapered basis.

We've expanded the pupil development grant by £20 million a year. We've got money in the budget to realise our international learning exchange programme, the youth board work, the school day work, the national music service, Welsh language education expansion. Many of those programme for government commitments are in my portfolio, obviously, and each of those has funding in the budget to enable us to deliver it. 

09:35

Thank you, Minister, and I'm sure we'll come on to some more of those points later. Are there any particular areas within your portfolio that you would have allocated greater funds to if resources had allowed, or would have anticipated putting additional funding to if it were not for the necessities of managing the pandemic?

Well, you're going to struggle to find an education Minister who is going to sit here and tell you that he or she couldn't usefully make creative and productive use of additional funding. So, there's that general caveat. And, I dare say, perhaps the most immediate one that springs to mind, just because of the circumstances in which schools are responding to COVID at the moment, is, last term, we had funding for placing newly qualified teachers in schools. We've extended that for this year, but we will not be able to extend that into the third term this year because the funding doesn't exist in the new financial year. So, that's an example. But, I think it's a good budget that delivers on our programme for government and supports our partners and our ambitions. Could I spend more money creatively? Of course I could. 

Thank you. I'll just bring Laura Jones in on this point. 

Just quickly, sorry, Minister. What did you say? I didn't really get it. You said you wanted to spend the money on 'something' teachers. What did you say? Sorry, I missed it. Thank you. 

I was just giving an example. I don't want to highlight this as being the key thing in the budget, as it were, but, for the first term of this academic year—so last term—and we've extended it for this term—we've placed 400 newly qualified teachers in schools because their own training and induction and qualification process was disrupted. Now, the intention for that was to make up for that disruption, but one of the effects of it has been to provide extra capacity in schools to respond to some of the staffing shortages. So, that's why we've extended it. I very much hope it wouldn't be necessary for that reason to extend it into another term, but if we had the money, that might be the kind of thing that we would look at. 

Thank you, and thanks, Laura. And it is very helpful to have an example that you've suggested. 

Just around the comparisons with the budgets, can you confirm that while resource funding in the education and Welsh language main expenditure group increased by £537 million compared to the 2021-22 final budget revised baseline, when compared with the current budget as set in the first supplementary budget, the increase is actually £10 million. To what extent do apparent increases in funding presented in the 2022-23 draft budget represent decisions that had already been announced rather than, perhaps, new money, just in terms of how we can compare the budget?

09:40

There are two parts, Chair, to that question. So, the first question is: what is the most instructive, comparatively, budget to compare with, really? And I just listed to you a number of ways in which, in the last financial year, there was additional funding available on a one-off basis to respond to COVID—in historic terms, quite extraordinarily large sums of money, for obvious reasons. But that is not a steady-state position, that is not what the education budget looks like in a steady-state position. And so, comparing with that doesn't tell you anything particularly useful, I would suggest. The best comparison is the like-for-like comparison, which, in the context of the language that we use there, is the revised baseline budget for last year. So, that's the kind of global answer to your question. The most informative basis is the steady-state, and that gives you the larger figure that you gave, of around £537 million.

I think it is, though, right to decouple that a little bit. So, within that £500 million-odd figure, there are two categories of resource budget, which I think—. It is worth being clear about that. So, part of it is resources around the budget generally, and that's around £188 million, and the rest of it is a non-cash budget, which essentially relates to student support finance, which is, effectively, earmarked for that purpose. So, it is important to look at those two things separately. But even, frankly, if you excluded that aspect of the budget—the non-cash aspect, we call it—you'd still be looking at an increased budget, even compared against the supplementary budget, which I don't think is the right comparison. Even on that basis, which is, if you like, I would say, the least useful, but, if you were challenging me, on the most conservative approach, there is still a budget increase of about £48 million. So, on any basis, the budget is going up, and, on most of those bases, reasonably, you'd expect the following year's budget to be coming down.

Thank you, Minister. And I was going to ask you around the student loans and that non-cash part next, so really appreciate having that information on the record. Did you want to say something else on that?

I'm just conscious I didn't touch on the last point, which is the, 'What's new and what's not new?', basically. Forgive me. So, clearly, as in any year, there are some commitments next year that are continuations of existing approaches. And in the COVID context, for example, that would now include, even though there's no earmarked money from the UK Government, our continuation of the three Rs, the recruit, recover and raise standards programme. So, as I say, that tapers down, but that's a continuation, if you like, of an existing commitment. But then there's a whole range of new commitments in there as well. So, whether that's the pupil development grant, the free school meals, the whole-school approach, the national music service, there's a range of new commitments in there as well to meet the programme for government commitments, and indeed the commitments that we've reached with Plaid Cymru in the co-operation agreement.

Thank you, Minister. And just finally from me on this point, given that the Welsh Government's meeting the cost of the 12.5 per cent net-zero carbon premium in the sustainable communities for learning programme, how much of the increase in capital funding is intended to cover the more expensive nature of projects due to the zero-carbon agenda, rather than actually supporting more projects in total?

Okay. So, the standard contribution that the Welsh Government makes to most kinds of projects in this space against the—[Inaudible.]—mainstream local government-maintained school is 65 per cent of the budget, when the rest is met by our partners. But, on the basis of the net-zero carbon pilot that we ran in 2021-22, this year, we have identified, completely unsurprisingly, that there is an additional cost, which is the cost of delivering to the currently higher specification for net zero. I say 'currently', because that will become the standard specification. That extra bit, if you like, if I can use that colloquial language, we have met on the pilot at 100 per cent, so that we can see what works, if you like. And the judgment we have reached on the basis of that pilot is that we will need to continue to meet the 100 per cent of that premium in order that our partners are not discouraged, if you like, bring forward proposals of the sort that we want. That will reduce over time as the specification becomes standard. So, we expect the profile of that cost to reduce from, currently—. We talk about up to 12.5 per cent; there's a degree of variability within that aspect. But, all of that notwithstanding, you'll have seen in the budget a commitment of around £300 million a year in relation to what we're now calling the sustainable communities for learning programme. That's a very significant capital increase in our budget year-on-year, and what I would say here, Chair, is, if you're looking for an example of where we've prioritised education in the overall portfolio allocations, this is a good example. Because the UK Government's capital settlement to us is 11 per cent less in 2024-25 than it is at the start, but you'll see here an increase in the profile of capital. So, that's obviously very positive. 

The basic point you're asking is, 'Does the fact that we're doing that enable us to build fewer schools?', I think. In the first band, we committed to 170 schools; in the second band, which is the one we're in now, we committed to 200 schools, and, because of the way we've managed our capital, even when you take into account the fact that we're paying 100 per cent of that premium on the new specification, we will still be able to deliver 200 schools in that programme. So, there'll be no change to the level of output that we've anticipated in the programme, which is a factor of how we've been able to manage that capital.

09:45

Thank you, Minister. We'll now move on to some more detailed questions from James Evans.

Chair, could I ask for your indulgence for one second—

—so that I can close a blind, which is about to mean that I can't see anything?

Yes, of course. And James will prepare his questioning.

It's absolutely fine. I was thinking that I know I can be difficult sometimes, Minister, but there was no need for that. [Laughter.]

We can hardly see you now, Minister. [Laughter.] It's fine. So, good morning. I've got a couple of questions for you. I'm just interested: why is the amount of money allocated in 2022-23 to the education sector to manage and respond to the pandemic less than in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 budgets? Why is that money less?

Some of the answer to that is in the points we've just been discussing, really, about the overall availability of the funding. So, there were large sums of money in both those financial years that were non-recurring. So, we spent that. Some of it, for example, we spent through our universities—about £50 million of that on student mental health and hardship, and a range of other commitments. But what we have done is we've ensured that, wherever possible, in the context of those budgetary restrictions, that at least the core elements of the renew and reform programme—and that programme has contributed very significantly to those large figures in the last two years—that the core elements of that programme, at least, continue. So, we've got £27.5 million in the first year and, as I said, that tapers down in the two years after that. We'll obviously be keeping funding under review as we progress through the period that we're looking at now and, if we need to, we'll be seeking additional funding from some of the reserves that we've been talking about at the very start, if there should be a need for that.

There is additional commitment in the budget in a similar space, whether that's around—. Well, this year's budget—this financial year; the current one—we had significant funding to help our further education partners in responding as well and there's—. I think there was £33 million in this year's budget; there's about £22 million in next year's budget for some of the post-16 work in a similar space. So, we've tried to make sure that, even though the UK Government settlement to us doesn't earmark COVID money, we've re-allocated our resources to make sure that we aren't just simply stopping some of those things; we're trying to have, if I can put it like this, a bit of a soft landing, if you like.

Yes. On that point, obviously it's a moving picture and I understand that, but, around exams, that's something that happens every single year, and I was just wondering, with COVID, I know you're saying it's under review all the time, but is there any earmarked, any contingency, funding especially for exams if they need to be cancelled this year, because I know that, last year, Government provided WJEC with enough money so that they could waive the charges for schools when awarding qualifications. I'm just wondering: is that something that's there now just in case, rather than having to pull on reserves at a later date?

09:50

Well, we did do that last year, as you say. We supported schools in relation to those fees and provided quite significant extra funding into schools to address the new pressures they faced in terms of staffing and other resourcing as a consequence of having to move to the centre determined grades process. You'll remember that we also, last year—. Just before Christmas, I announced a package of £24 million to support quite significantly exam year cohorts, because we are moving towards exams for this summer; that is the fairest way of assessing our students. So, that is the planning assumption in this budget. If it were to be the case—. And I'm responding to your question, rather than telling you this is the plan, because it absolutely is not, but if it were to be the case that we would need those contingency arrangements, which we know what they are, because Qualifications Wales and WJEC have been clear about that, then any funding that would be required for that would be considered as part of that in-year budgeting process that I talked about earlier out of that central reserve. So, the money would be found to do that, if it were needed, but we are not planning on that basis.

I'll just bring Laura in—. Is it okay if I just bring Laura in on that point, James?

If it's to supp on that supplementary that you just said, you carry on, James. It's something a little bit different, but on your first point. Up to you. Do you want to carry on on the—?

You carry on, Laura. Who am I to stand in the way of a good question? [Laughter.]

Okay, I just wanted to ask you, Minister—sorry, if I may just butt in here just a minute—about the moneys for responding to the pandemic. Obviously, as you said, we've got new problems. Schools have new problems that they're facing now, particularly in terms of staffing, which is different, but there are still enormous pressures on them having to get supply teachers in. I'm just wondering what you're doing on that; are you ring-fencing any money to help the school budgets, because they are obviously under enormous pressure? 

But my other question was: what about ventilation? Does that come into those moneys, because, obviously, we've got to move towards preventative measures now to protect our children going forwards now, and we want that roll-out as soon as possible, because we can't have children sitting in the classroom with windows and doors open still. It's not sustainable and it's not good for their well-being. So, I'm just wondering where that money is coming from. I think those adaptations are going to cost an awful lot of money, so I'm just wondering if that has any impact on these moneys. Thank you.

Well, on that point specifically, you'll recall that we had a ventilation fund in the autumn term, which schools and local education authority partners have been deploying to make the sorts of changes needed to improve ventilation—[Inaudible.] For example, some of it is about where doors can't be open, some of it is around layout. All of those things are specifically the response to, as you rightly say, the need to make sure that our schools are well ventilated and can respond to, where they arise, those higher readings on the carbon dioxide monitors that we've provided for every classroom in Wales. You'll recall as well that, a matter of days ago, I announced very significant extra funding from a capital perspective—£50 million as part of the £100 million plus package—and that is also available to be deployed for ventilation, health and safety and so on. So, that is money available in the system already to make the kinds of changes that you're talking about in your question. But, you know, you might say, I suppose, that that is one of the reasons why it would have been good had there been continued COVID funding earmarked for Governments right across the UK in the settlement, because there will be ongoing pressures, obviously. That hasn't happened. But we have deployed as much funding in this financial year, so that it can be a foundation, if you like, for going forward into the next.

Thank you, Cadeirydd. Minister, I'm just interested. With all the pressures that local authorities have been under—and I think they have had a good settlement this year—I was just wondering what discussions have you and the Minister for Finance and Local Government had that will expect local authorities to prioritise schools when setting their budgets, and what discussions have you had with the local authorities around that, and what do you intend to do if some local authorities don't prioritise schools in their budgets and actually put the money elsewhere? And do you think there's enough money being sent to local authorities to have sufficient funding beyond 2023?

09:55

Well, the answer to your question is 'yes'. The finance Minister and I meet regularly, obviously, to discuss this and we met together with the finance sub-group of the WLGA in the autumn of last year to talk specifically about the question of school funding in that particular context. That was one of the teachers' pay discussions when we looked at the broader picture. So, the settlement that the Minister for finance has announced this year is, I think, on any measure, a very significant increase in terms of the annual core funding that the Welsh Government provides to our partners, and I think probably more than meets the needs that were outlined by our partners in those discussions. So, a 9.4 per cent increase on a like-for-like basis.

I think it's just worth us bearing in mind that the smallest local authority increase in the 2022-23 settlement is higher than the increase for any authority in any prior settlement year for at least 17 years. That would be worth repeating, but I won't do that; just to give you a sense of that. And that recognises significant pressures on our colleagues in local government, and recognises the extraordinary role they've played in the last couple of years in particular.

As you obviously know, local government financing through the RSG is unhypothecated, and it's a very well-established principle in Wales that we allow our local authorities to make the judgments about how they spend those funds. What I would say from a schools' perspective specifically is that we have ongoing discussions with them, and all our colleagues recognise how important it is to make sure that our school system is fully funded, and the settlement certainly permits that to happen. We'll obviously continue to monitor and publish the data that we do around how those budgets are set and how the expenditure happens in schools across Wales.

I think it's worth also noting that, from a schools' point of view specifically, one of the consequences of the way schools have had to operate, if you like, over the last two years, as a consequence of COVID, is that the underlying reserves position across the schools—. Obviously, there is variability, so if I can just be clear about that at the start, but the overall position across the schools in Wales is that the reserves currently held are around £181 million. That was the case, rather, in March of last year, and that's a very significant increase of around £140 million compared to the previous year. So, we've wanted to continue to make sure that normal core funding is provided to schools, not least given the pressures that they're under, but I hope that that reserve position, healthy as it is, provides our school leaders as well with additional room for manoeuvre.

Yes, and that leads me on to my last question, Minister, around school reserves. I probably should declare an interest here, as I am a governor of a high school. So, with the reserves level going up—it was £32 million and it's shot up now to £181 million in March 2021, which the data shows us; obviously, that could be because of additional COVID-related moneys going into schools—I just want to know how you and the Government are monitoring this money to make sure it's spent on the front line and are making sure that local authorities are questioning their schools, to make sure that that money is being spent where it needs to be spent and is not being stuck in school balances. And that's it from me, Minister. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Well, school leaders work very constructively, in my experience, with local education authorities in the questions around budgets, and there are pressures that everyone is trying to navigate. As I say, for this year and with those reserves, that will provide, I hope, some room for those decisions to be made.

On the question that you put about data and so on and monitoring, we have existing arrangements that do this. So, we will continue those arrangements. We collect the data, we assess it and we publish it, and that will continue.

Thank you, Minister. We now move on to some questions from Ken Skates.

Thanks, Chair. Good morning, Minister. I'm just going to quickly ask about the new curriculum, and the development and roll-out of the curriculum. How does the draft budget support the implementation of the new curriculum, because, of course, it begins for primary schools in September of this calendar year? And how essential do you believe professional learning is, and what provision is there, in the budget, for this?

10:00

Well, on the curriculum specifically, we put £8.3 million extra into last year's budget, and we're maintaining that funding for this coming financial year. And, on top of that, we just recognise how important learner progression is as part of that set of reforms, so we're putting in an additional £5.3 million in the first of these three financial years. That tapers down then for the second and third, as the reforms are implemented. So, there's significant additional funding for that implementation process directly.

But, in a way, your second point, if I may say, is—. A key objective is to make sure that, clearly, practitioners are supported to deliver the curriculum—that's the driver of the reform, isn't it? So, the professional learning aspect of that is completely fundamental, really. When I became education Minister, I don't think previously, if I'm honest, I had focused on quite how significant the sums are that we spend on professional learning, which I think would be the envy of most Governments, really, and that will continue. So, we'll be allocating nearly £37.5 million again in the next financial year for professional learning. Some of that is spent by consortia, some of it by the National Academy for Educational Leadership and some of it by schools directly, obviously, and that will continue. 

I think, if I'm honest, the challenge for us now, and it's one that we are grasping, is this huge amount of resource that is available to practitioners. I want to be clear, and I've tasked officials to make sure we are doing this, that any practitioner in Wales—. There'll be practitioners who are feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety about introducing the curriculum in the best way for their learners, obviously, and there's a lot of pressure in schools at the moment. I want to make it as easy as possible for each practitioner to (a) know what they should be looking for, and (b) how to find it easily—that core package of information that they will need. So, that's the next task, I think. The resource is there, the commissioning and development is there; we need to make sure that it's absolutely easily accessible by every practitioner, really. That's the next challenge.

Excellent. Thank you, Minister. I'm just going to follow up on something quite specific. We heard from Deputy Minister Lynne Neagle about the need for ongoing professional developing regarding specifically the mental health and well-being aspect of the new curriculum, and I think she said, when she gave evidence:

'There will undoubtedly have to be training moneys to underpin that going forward, because we'll have to have the whole workforce equipped to deal with that.'

'That' being the mental health and well-being element of the curriculum. So, will the training for improved teaching of the mental health elements of the curriculum, and well-being, be part of the additional sums that you've highlighted this morning? And if so, is it going to be ring-fenced specifically for training in terms of mental health and well-being? And if I can just be a little more cheeky and ask for an assurance that that additional funding will not come at the expense of direct intervention via the well-being teams that have proven so vitally important during the course of the pandemic and, indeed, beforehand.

Well, in addition to what I've—. I've just described quite significant sums of money to you there in terms of professional learning, and that will be available for the whole range of professional learning for teachers. There's a whole new emphasis, as you obviously know, in the curriculum on health and well-being, so, for the first time, there'll be very significant resources deployed to professional learning in that space, for curriculum reasons.

But, as well as that, in the budget, we are increasing very significantly the budget for implementation of the whole-school approach to mental health and well-being, which will, obviously, specifically target that. Clearly, training is one aspect of what we need to spend that money on. So, as you, I think, will know, the budget for that is divided between my budget and Lynne Neagle's budget. The larger part is in that budget and that's staying constant at £7 million a year for the next three years, but, in my budget, that's increasing very significantly. For the first year, there's an increase of £3.2 million, and that gets us to £9.6 million by the end of that period.

10:05

Excellent. Thanks, Minister. Moving on, the curriculum and teaching and leadership budget actions are forecast to be over-budget during the course of this current financial year. Can you explain why this is the case, and are you confident that the budget that you've put in place for the next financial year will be sufficient?

Yes. It's a technical reason, actually. So, the budget appears over-budget, if I can put it like that, because we know that there'll be future transfers made in the next supplementary budget, which is coming out in mid February, and they will basically cover the overspend—you know, we've planned on that basis. Obviously, the new budget hasn't been published yet, but you will see that it's in there when it's published, so that will end up being netted out, basically.

Brilliant. Okay, thank you. Are you able to confirm the total amount of additional funding that's in the draft budget for additional learning needs provision, and break this down by funding to meet existing pressures and funding to implement the new system under the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018? For example, is the £18 million that you announced in January additional to the extra £7 million documented in your paper?

Well, on the second point—that's the easiest point to answer quickly—the answer to that is 'yes', the £18 million is all new money, if you like. In terms of the position going forward, we're doubling our direct investment in ALN with an extra £14 million, to go to schools and to local authorities. There's already £7 million in that line, so that'll end up providing £21 million in that budget line, effectively. So, we're discussing with our stakeholders how best to allocate that on the ground; we want to listen to what they have to say. But, clearly, the Bill had a regulatory impact assessment, which was scrutinised and so on, but as we rolled out, as the implementation has begun, it is clear that there are additional costs that are being incurred, so we've listened and responded, basically.

Excellent. Thanks, Minister. I was just going to seek clarification about the funding for implementing the whole-school approach; I think you've clarified that very well indeed. So, I'll just ask: do you have a lead official within the department who focuses on mental health and emotional resilience within education establishments, or is that responsibility for Lynne Neagle and, therefore, you essentially have several officials who have an interest in this, but no lead official? Which is the case?

Well, we have Owain's team. Owain, you can perhaps—[Inaudible.]—specific to that.

Yes. Just to answer that, we do have a division that focuses on a whole range of issues and the whole-school approach being that. So, there's a lead deputy director on my side, but clearly, we'll work closely with Lynne Neagle's officials too. So, absolutely, it is embedded within my directorate, but with very close co-operation with Lynne's officials.

Owain, that's really good to hear. To have someone at a deputy director level responsible for this is really, really important. Thank you. Thanks, Minister. Thanks, Chair.

Thank you, Ken. Questions now from Laura Anne Jones. Laura.

Thank you, Chair. Minister, can you explain what the rationalisation of the raising school standards budget line structure means, please, as referred to in your paper? And does it reflect any change in approach to providing schools with additional funding to raise standards, as has been a programme for government commitment for the last two Senedds? Thank you.

I think, Chair, this is a presentational question, rather than a substantive question, so if I just explain what that means, really. In the last Senedd, obviously, we had a commitment to spend £100 million for school standards over the course of the Senedd, which we did, and some of that was around the self-improving systems and it was around the kind of professional learning discussion we just had—curriculum reform, well-being, Welsh language. So, that was the basket of interventions and policies that the £100 million that we committed to and we spent over the last Senedd delivered. So, actually, in this Senedd, that will end up being a larger figure. This year's budget commits £25.5 million into that area and that will be recurring into each year beyond now. So, that will end up effectively being an increase, if you like.

The presentational point is this: previously, it has been about agreeing that as additional to the budget each year in order to deliver that, but that has now been baselined, if I can put it like that, into our new budget. So, that now becomes the new floor, if you like, rather than negotiating for it to be increased every—. You know, for it to be contributed every year. So, you will see, in a range of BELs—. Just to give you a sense of that, it's the teacher development and support budget expenditure line, the additional learning needs, the literacy and numeracy, curriculum and assessment, tackling disaffection, and Welsh in education. Each of those have had £25 million apportioned, if you like, into them, because that is now the new baseline.

10:10

Okay. In the programme for government 2021-26, it does include a commitment, which is welcome, to

'continue our long-term programme of education reform, and ensure educational inequalities narrow and standards rise’.

That's something we would want to see, but there aren't any specific details that I can see about the amounts of funding. You said earlier that there are specific moneys for specific things, but I can't see that. Could you help me out with that? Thanks.

It's in the budget that we've provided. It's the budget expenditure lines that I've just listed there. It's a £25.5 million commitment. It's in the papers we've provided, but if it'd be helpful, my officials can work with the clerks to identify that. 

Yes, if that could be broken down, that would be wonderful. Thank you. And, Minister, what will the additional £20 million for the pupil deprivation grant budget line be used for? Is it needed because of the higher eFSM levels triggering more grant funding for schools, as well as more families being eligible for the PDG access scheme, or is it due to an active policy decision to extend the scheme? 

This is definitely an active policy decision. There are choices to be made here and we've made a very clear choice to extend the funding available to PDG by £20 million, which takes it up to £130 million every year. That is separate and additional to PDG access, and they're slightly different in approaches. Based on the pupil-level annual schools census data for 2021, on which PDG is calculated, we'll be expecting a significant increase in learners being eligible—about 18,000. We've made the commitment to continue applying the existing rate of £1,150 to each of those newly eligible individuals. That leads to an uplift of £20 million in the PDG funding overall, which, as you know, is not an individual commitment for individual learners; it's a package of money that goes to schools as additional grant funding generally. PDG access is different and is additional to that, because that does create, as you know, an individual benefit. That will be at £13 million in the new budget for the first of those financial years. Just a reminder that, in 2019-20, not so long ago, the budget for this was at around £1.7 million, so it just gives you a sense of the step change in terms of the investment we're making through PDG access. And you will have seen, I think, probably, the announcement a few days ago that we are extending the coverage of PDG access, so it's available not just in every other year, but for every year.

Thank you, Minister. What implications will the extension of the free school meals eligibility to the youngest primary school children in September 2022 and all primary school children in September 2023 have for the pupil deprivation grant?

As you know, it's an eligibility criterion that applies across a range of Government policies, really, both as eligibility, but also as a proxy for other expenditure. So, changing the basis on which free school meals are provided does have quite a significant effect on that range of policy areas. We're going to be working closely with our partners over this year, really, over the next few months, before the new free school meals eligibility comes into effect, to identify what is affected and how then to respond to that.

I think, in practical terms, there'll be a short-term, interim solution, if you like, and then probably a longer term piece of work to identify a new steady-state position. We're also doing a piece of work, which we'll be talking more about in the spring, around  equity in education generally, and so, those two things will need to be looked at in the round, if you like. But, just to say, just to reassure you, I suppose, PDG generally, as I was saying, is an additional grant to schools. Because of the way it's calculated, partly because the academic year and the financial year are out of kilter, if you like, there is an element where any one year's PDG figures draw partly on last year's data. What that means in practical terms is we probably have two of these three financial years with relative stability to give us some space to make those different judgments and decisions about eligibility.

In primary school, of course, people will no longer need to apply for free school meals once the new regime is fully up and running. The question then is how do you use the free schools meals eligibility for other things, if you like. I haven't had advice and I haven't made judgments on this yet, and that'll be a little while, but an example of how it could work is: at the moment, eligibility for free school meals also gives you access to PDG access, for example. We could still use those criteria for PDG access, even though we don't need to use them for free school meals in primary schools any more. So, there are definitely solutions. It isn't clear yet what that will be precisely, but just to give reassurance, there are definitely some pretty clear options there.

10:15

Thank you. You answered my next question, which was how do we look after that specific group of people that currently receive free school meals, that they don't get lost in the—. You know, that we identify those people and carry on to make sure they get the best education possible. So, you just answered that. It'll be good to see where you go with that from now on.

Just lastly, then, Minister, how will the draft budget allocations over the next few years help the Welsh Government to make progress towards its 'Cymraeg 2050' targets of 1 million Welsh speakers and doubling the daily use of the language? Specifically, how will the funding be used to improve the Welsh language skills of young people by the time they complete their education? Thank you.

I spent an hour yesterday talking to one of your sister committees in relation to this in detail. There is a range of ways in which that will happen. There's significant additional funding that I was able to make available in this financial year, for example, in relation to immersion, to enable people who don't have access to Welsh to learn Welsh in order to have a Welsh language education. I'll be continuing that immersion funding into this budget period. We're maintaining our funding to Mudiad Meithrin to strengthen their capacity to deliver and to expand provision. They met their target, I'm pleased to say—. In fact, they exceeded their target of 40 new cylchoedd. There's another 12 in development for this year, and the funding available will enable 60 further cylchoedd to be established over the course of this Senedd term.

As part of the co-operation agreement we've reached with Plaid Cymru, there will be significant additional funding, even above what we envisaged originally, which was quite significant, which will go to the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and to the National Centre for Learning Welsh, which will enable them to expand provision. It will allow the national centre to be able to provide free language lessons to anybody in the age range of 16 to 25, which will effectively mean that anybody who wishes to and who is able to make the time to become fully bilingual will be able to do that free of charge, if you like, by the age of 25. In addition to that, you'll have seen some of the funding in the budget to support recruitment of Welsh-medium teachers and also to support the expansion of e-sgol, which provides an ability for people to study Welsh at A-level, for example, where that isn't offered in their school. There's probably an hour I could talk about that, which I did yesterday, but that gives you a flavour, I think, about what's in there.

You come in, Sioned. I've got a quick question then to come back, before your next set of questions.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Jest eisiau holi oeddwn i am yr elfen yna o recriwtio'r gweithlu. Roeddwn i'n gweld bod Dyfodol i'r Iaith wedi dweud yn eu hymateb nhw i'r Pwyllgor Cyllid ar y gyllideb na fydd modd cynnal twf mewn addysg Gymraeg heb weithlu, yn amlwg, sy'n gallu dysgu drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg a chynnig cefnogaeth drwy'r Gymraeg. Felly, roeddwn i jest eisiau tipyn bach o eglurder ar yr hyn oeddech chi'n ei ddweud yn eich papur chi ynglŷn â recriwtio a beth rŷch chi newydd ei ddweud nawr. O dan 2.13.14, rŷch chi'n dweud eich bod chi yn gobeithio cynnal yr un lefel o gyllid ar gyfer dysgu proffesiynol cyfrwng Cymraeg, er enghraifft. Felly, byddwn i jest yn hoffi gwybod pam 'gobeithio' a pham nad 'cynnal yr un lefel'.

Hefyd, o ran Iaith Athrawon Yfory, rwyf i'n gweld, yn amlwg, fod galw yn arwain y gyllideb ar hynny, ond roeddwn i jest yn teimlo ychydig yn bryderus o weld geiriau fel eich bod chi'n meddwl y byddai 'oddeutu' yr un lefel o gyllid ac yn y blaen. Ac yn ehangach na hynny, ydych chi'n ffyddiog bod yna ddigon o adnoddau yn y gyllideb fel mae'n sefyll er mwyn mynd i'r afael â'r broblem yma o recriwtio gweithlu cyfrwng Cymraeg?

Thank you, Chair. I just wanted to ask about that element of recruitment with regard to the workforce. I saw that Dyfodol i'r Iaith said in their response to the Finance Committee on the draft budget that it won't be possible to sustain the growth in Welsh-medium education without a workforce that is able to teach through the medium of Welsh and provide support through the medium of Welsh. So, I just wanted a bit of clarity on what you stated in your paper with regard to recruitment and what you've just said. Under 2.13.14, you say that you hope to maintain the same level of funding for professional learning through the medium of Welsh. So, I would just like to know why you 'hope' that that will be the case. 

And in terms of Iaith Athrawon Yfory, I see that demand is leading the budget on that, but I just felt slightly concerned about words such as 'about' the same level of funding and so on. So, are you confident that there is sufficient resource in the budget as it stands to tackle this problem of recruiting a Welsh-medium workforce?

10:20

Mae hwn yn flaenoriaeth fawr, achos mae'r holl bethau rŷn ni'n eu trafod o ran ehangu darpariaeth yn gyffredinol, o ran annog mwy o rieni i ddewis addysg Gymraeg i'w plant, o ran addysg ôl-16—. Mae'r holl bethau yma, ar ddiwedd y dydd, yn dibynnu ar ein gallu ni i sicrhau bod digon o bobl yn gallu ac yn dewis addysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Felly, ar un lefel, mae'r cyfan yn dod nôl i hynny. Felly, mae'n flaenoriaeth bwysig iawn.

Mae gwaith yn digwydd eisoes i sicrhau bod gyda ni gynllun sydd yn cyfateb i'r cynlluniau strategol dros y ddegawd nesaf, er mwyn, ar ddiwedd y ddegawd, bod cynnydd yn digwydd. Felly, mae £1.8 miliwn yn y flwyddyn nesaf ar gyfer hyn, a chynyddiadau y tu hwnt i hynny hefyd. Mae amryw o bethau sydd angen eu gwneud yn y maes hwn. Mae rhai yn y maes cymhellion ariannol, fel rŷch chi'n sôn amdanyn nhw, gyda Iaith Athrawon Yfory, ond hefyd mae angen sicrhau bod y mecanwaith o sut rŷch chi'n cymhwyso fel athro yn y Gymraeg yn annog cymaint o bobl ag sy'n bosib i wneud hynny. Felly, mae gwaith pontio gyda ni ar hyn o bryd; mae gyda ni'r gwaith ble mae'r coleg Cymraeg yn—beth yw'r gair? Mae ganddyn nhw rôl o gynyddu'r nifer sydd yn dysgu trwy'r Gymraeg a hefyd darparu'r adnoddau i wneud hynny.

Ond hefyd, mae angen gweithio, dwi'n credu, yn greadigol gydag ysgolion yn gynharach nag ŷn ni'n gwneud ar hyn o bryd, er mwyn, pan mae disgyblion yn gwneud dewisiadau ar gyfer cyrsiau ac ati, eu bod nhw'n cael eu hannog i wneud hynny. Mae issue gyda ni ar hyn o bryd o ran y niferoedd sy'n cymryd Cymraeg ar lefel A, fel rŷch chi'n gwybod, felly mae mwy o waith gyda ni i wneud i annog y rheini. Dyw hynny ddim yn dod â chost, pethau fel hynny, ond mae'r cymhellion ac ati'n mynd i wneud. A dwi yn sicr bod yr arian sydd yn y gyllideb yn caniatáu inni wneud hynny.

This is a major priority, because all of the issues that we're discussing in terms of expanding provision in general and encouraging more parents to choose Welsh-medium education for their children, and post-16 education—. All of these things ultimately depend on our ability to ensure that enough people are able to and choose to teach through the medium of Welsh. So, it all comes back to that. So, it is an important priority.

Work is already being done to ensure that we have a plan that corresponds to the strategic plans over the next decade, so that we will see an increase by the end of the decade. So, £1.8 million in the next year is being allocated for this, and there will be increases beyond that. There are several things that do need to be done, some relating to those financial incentives, as you said, with Iaith Athrawon Yfory being one example. But we do need to ensure that there is a mechanism in terms of how you qualify as a teacher through the medium of Welsh and that that encourages as many people as possible to do exactly that. So, we have transition work at the moment; we have work with the coleg Cymraeg, where they have a role of increasing the numbers who are able to teach through the medium of Welsh, and they provide the resources to do that.

But we also need to work creatively, I think, with schools earlier on than we do at the moment, so that when pupils make their choices for courses, they are encouraged to do that. There is an issue at the moment in terms of the numbers who are taking Welsh at A-level, as you know. So, we do have a job of work to do to encourage that. Those things do not come with a cost, but incentives and so on do. And I'm sure that the funding that we have put forward will allow us to do that.

Thank you. Sorry to take you back, Minister, slightly, to a question that Laura asked you previously. I was just wondering whether you could say whether the pupil development grant will continue once universal free school meals are introduced.

Yes. It not just continues, but it's to be expanded. So, over each of these three years, it will now be at £130 million, which is a £20 million increase for each of those years.

Brilliant. Thank you very much, Minister. It's good to have that on the record. Sioned, we'll go back to some more questions from you. Sioned Williams.

Diolch. Cwestiynau ynglŷn ag addysg uwch sydd gen i. Mae'r llinell wariant sy'n darparu cyllid craidd ar gyfer y sector addysg uwch yn is na chyllideb gyfredol 2021-22, a'r alldro rhagamcanol ar gyfer y flwyddyn bresennol. A yw hwn yn ostyngiad mewn termau real yn y cyllid i'r sector addysg uwch, ac, os felly, sut byddech chi'n esbonio hyn i rai yn y sector sy'n galw am gynnal y buddsoddiad ar ei lefel bresennol fel y lleiafswm y bydden nhw'n ei ddisgwyl?

Thank you. I have questions with regard to higher education. The budget line that provides core funding for the higher education sector is lower than the current 2021-22 budget, and the forecast outturn for the current year. Is this a real-terms cut in funding to the HE sector, and, if so, how would you explain this to those in the sector who are calling for investment to be maintained at its current level as the minimum they would expect?

Wel, mae hi yn cynnal y lefel, fel rŷch chi'n dweud, achos mae'n dibynnu—. Mae'n adlais, wrth gwrs, o beth gawsom ni ar y cychwyn ynglŷn â beth rŷch chi'n cymharu. Felly, os ŷch chi'n cymharu gyda'r supplementary budgets, mae symiau sylweddol ychwanegol mewn blwyddyn, fel petai, wedi mynd i'r gyllideb honno, sydd ddim yn digwydd mewn blynyddoedd cyffredin a fydd ddim yn digwydd yn y blynyddoedd sydd i ddod. Felly, os cymharwch chi fe gyda'r revised baseline—maddeuwch i mi, dwi ddim yn gwybod y term Cymraeg am hwnnw—ac os tynnwch chi'r arian allan am brentisiaethau gradd, mae hi ar yr un lefel. O ran prentisiaethau gradd, mae gyda ni broses o asesu'r cynllun hwnnw'n digwydd ar hyn o bryd, ond byddwn ni'n ymateb i'r asesiad hwnnw. Mae angen cael trafodaethau gyda Gweinidog yr Economi hefyd, wrth gwrs, am hyn, ond dwi'n disgwyl gweld y bydd yr arian am y gyllideb prentisiaethau gradd yn dod nôl mewn yn sgil yr asesiad hwnnw.

Well, it does maintain the level, as you said, because it depends—. It's an echo of what we said at the beginning. So, if you're comparing with the supplementary budgets, significant additional in-year sums have gone into that budget, and that hasn't happened in usual years and won't happen in future years. So, if you compare that with the revised baseline—I don't know what the Welsh term for that is—and if you take the funding out for degree apprenticeships, then it is maintained at the same level. In terms of those degree apprenticeships, we do have a process of assessing that scheme under way at the moment, but we will be responding to that assessment. I will have discussions with the Minister for Economy on this, of course, but I expect that the funding for the degree apprenticeships budget will come back in following that assessment.

10:25

Diolch. Mae Prifysgolion Cymru wedi honni yn eu hymateb nhw i'r gyllideb, er bod cymorth ar gael ar gyfer y blynyddoedd 2020-21, does dim cyllid ychwanegol wedi'i ddarparu i gefnogi ymateb y sector addysg uwch i COVID yn 2021-22, ac maen nhw'n amlinellu nifer o bethau lle mae'r galw yr un fath. Maen nhw'n sôn am yr effaith sydd wedi bod ar recriwtio ac yn y blaen, a'r colli incwm sydd wedi bod oherwydd eu bod nhw'n methu defnyddio eu hystâd nhw yn yr un ffordd. Maen nhw'n sôn hefyd, wrth gwrs, am, ac fe ddarparwyd y llynedd, yr arian ychwanegol yma ar gyfer cefnogaeth myfyrwyr o ran eu lles ac iechyd meddwl ac yn y blaen, yn ogystal â gwneud y newidiadau ar yr ystâd o ran diogelwch yr oedd angen eu gwneud. Felly, sut ydych chi'n ymateb i hynny?

Thank you. Universities Wales have stated in their response to the budget that, whilst support was available in 2020-21, no additional funding has been provided to support the HE sector response to COVID-19 in 2021-22, and they outline several things that are needed where the demand remains the same. They talk about the impact that there has been on recruitment and so on, and the loss of income that has been seen because they can't use their estates in the same way. Last year it was provided, but they talk about the additional funding to support students in terms of their well-being and mental health, as well as making the changes on the estate with regard to security and safety. So, how would you respond to that?

Wel, jest i ddweud, mi wna i roi ambell enghraifft ichi o'r hyn sydd wedi cael ei wario yn 2021-22. Mae'r lefel o gefnogaeth rŷn ni wedi'i rhoi yng Nghymru i'r sector addysg uwch yn sgil COVID yn sylweddol. Os cymharwch chi ef, er enghraifft, gyda'r hyn sydd wedi digwydd ar draws y ffin, mae Wonkhe—bydd rhai ohonoch chi'n gwybod beth yw Wonkhe—wedi bod yn gwneud gwaith cymharu ac, yng Nghymru, mae'n gyfystyr â rhyw £322 y pen i bob myfyriwr, ac yn Lloegr mae'n gyfystyr â rhyw £25 y pen. Felly, mae e jest yn disgrifio ichi ba mor wahanol mae'r ymrwymiad a'r buddsoddiad wedi bod a, jest i ddweud, mae'r Education Policy Institute wedi dweud mai Cymru yw'r rhan o'r Deyrnas Gyfunol sydd wedi darparu fwyaf o arian ac wedi gwneud hynny yn y ffordd fwyaf blaengar, jest fel cyd-destun.

Ond yn y flwyddyn ariannol hon, 2021-22, rŷch chi'n sôn amdani, rŷn ni wedi darparu cyllideb drwy law HEFCW o ran newidiadau awyru, ac wedi darparu hefyd monitors carbon deuocsid i'r sector ar gyfer ymateb yn yr un ffordd â'r ysgolion. Fel rhan o'r winter of well-being, gwnaeth y Dirprwy Weinidog Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol ddatgan bod arian wedi mynd o hwnnw i HEFCW i gyfrannu tuag at nod y cynllun hwnnw. Mae gwaith wedi digwydd yn y flwyddyn hon drwy'r COVID reserve—rhyw £2 miliwn ychwanegol drwy'r cynllun renew and reform. Mae hynny wedi bod yn gweithio gyda phob lefel o'r sector, yn cynnwys addysg uwch. Felly, mae, yn sicr, enghreifftiau yn y flwyddyn ariannol hon. Fel roeddwn i'n dweud ar y cychwyn, wrth gwrs bod mwy o alw a bydd mwy o alw'n parhau yn y dyfodol. Wrth gwrs, o'r flwyddyn ariannol yma ymlaen, bydd dim arian wedi'i glustnodi yn y setliad o San Steffan, felly mae'r adnoddau rŷn ni'n eu darparu o nawr ymlaen yn dod o'n cyllideb graidd ni.

Well, just to say, I will give a few examples of what has been funded in 2021-22. The level of support that we have provided in Wales to the higher education sector as a result of COVID is significant. If you compare it, for example, with what has happened across the border, Wonkhe—some of you will know what Wonkhe is—has been doing some work on comparisons, and in Wales it equates to around £322 per head for each student, and in England it equates to around £325 per head. So, there has been a major difference in terms of investment per head, and it's been stated by the Education Policy Institute that Wales is the part of the UK that has provided the most funding and has done so in the most progressive way, just in terms of the context.

But in this financial year, 2021-22, we have provided funding through HEFCW, in terms of monitors, in terms of ventilation, and we've also provided carbon dioxide monitors to the sector to respond to the needs of schools. In terms of the winter of well-being, the Deputy Minister for Social Services stated that funding has been provided to HEFCW to go towards the aims of that scheme. Work has been done this year through the COVID reserve—an additional £2 million through the renew and reform scheme. That's been worked with all parts of the sector, including higher education. So, there are certainly examples in this financial year. As I said from the outset, there was more demand and demand will continue. In this financial year onwards, funding won't have been earmarked from the Westminster settlement, so the resources that we provide now come from our core budget.

Diolch. Faint o arian mae'r diwygiadau a ddeilliodd o adolygiad Diamond wedi caniatáu i Weinidogion ei drosglwyddo o gyllid cymorth i fyfyrwyr i linell wariant yn y gyllideb rhaglen Cyngor Cyllido Addysg Uwch Cymru yn 2022-23 ac yn y blynyddoedd blaenorol? A yw hyn yn cyd-fynd â'r modelu gwreiddiol?

Thank you. How much money have the reforms emanating from the Diamond review allowed Ministers to transfer from student support funding to the HEFCW programme expenditure budget expenditure lines in 2022-23 and in previous years? Is this in line with the original modelling?

Wel, mae'n uwch na'r modelu gwreiddiol, rhywfaint. Mae e'n rhyw £75 miliwn sydd wedi'i symud o gefnogaeth myfyrwyr yn gyffredinol i HEFCW yn benodol. Mae hynny i gyd wedi cael ei ail-fuddsoddi, os hoffwch chi, yn y sector addysg uwch. Felly, yn 2020-21, roedd transfer o £25 miliwn yn wreiddiol i mewn i HEFCW. Roedd rhai newidiadau yn sgil hynny, ond aeth hynny ar brentisiaethau gradd, fel roedden ni'n sôn am nawr, rhan ohono fe ar COVID-19, rhan ohono fe ar gefnogi iechyd meddwl myfyrwyr, a rhan ohono fe i ddarparu ar gyfer costau ychwanegol myfyrwyr meddygaeth. Mae amryw o lefydd lle rŷn ni wedi ail-fuddsoddi yn ôl mewn i'r sector, ac mae hynny ar ben yr hyn sydd wedi cael ei ddyrannu i HEFCW fel cyllideb gyfalaf, er enghraifft. Felly, mae'r ymrwymiad gyda ni i sicrhau bod y transfers yn mynd nôl i'r sector wedi digwydd, ac ar lefel uwch nag oedden ni wedi disgwyl.

Well, it's more than the original modelling. It's around £75 million that has moved from student support in general to HEFCW specifically. That's all been reinvested in the higher education sector, if you will. So, in 2020-21, there was the transfer of £25 million to HEFCW. There were some changes made as a result of that, but that was spent on degree apprenticeships, part of it was the COVID-19 response, part of it was to support the mental health of students, and part of it was to provide for additional costs for medical students. That's all been reinvested into the sector, and that is on top of what has been allocated to HEFCW as a capital budget, for example. So, the commitment there ensures that those transfers go back to the sector, and it's at a higher level than we had expected.

Diolch. Sut mae'r gyllideb ddrafft yn bwrw ymlaen â'r argymhellion o adolygiad Reid, er enghraifft, drwy wobrwyo prifysgolion sy'n denu buddsoddiad i Gymru, a darparu mwy o gymorth ar gyfer arloesi? 

Thank you. How does the draft budget take forward the recommendations from the Reid review, for example, by rewarding universities that bring investment into Wales, and provide greater support for innovation?

10:30

Wrth ymateb i Reid, rŷn ni wedi agor y swyddfa yn Llundain, rŷn ni wedi creu cronfa arloesi, sydd yn mynd drwy law HEFCW, ynghyd â buddsoddiad ar gyfer ymchwil QR—yn uwch na'r hyn roedd Reid yn galw amdano fe, fel mae'n digwydd. Rŷn ni wedi creu bursaries drwy law HEFCW, sydd werth rhyw £4 miliwn, sydd â phwyslais ar STEM yn benodol. Ac fel rŷn ni'n gwybod, ac mae wedi bod yn rhan o'r trafodaethau rŷn ni wedi eu cael fel pleidiau, mae gwaith ar gyfer strategaeth draws-lywodraethol ym maes arloesi yn digwydd ar hyn o bryd, ac rŷn ni wedi darparu arian yn ddiweddar i gefnogi ymchwil—[Anghlywadwy.]—a chefnogaeth bellach o £2 miliwn i'r Wales Innovation Network.

Un o'r sialensiau yn y dyfodol yw bod y tirwedd ariannu ymchwil wedi newid yn sylweddol ers cyfnod Reid. Felly, mae'r torri addewid o ran Llywodraeth San Steffan ar gyfer beth fyddai'n digwydd i arian ymchwil, a'n gallu ni fel Llywodraeth i fuddsoddi hynny yng Nghymru, yn gyson â'r blaenoriaethau y mae pobl Cymru wedi'n hethol ni i'w delifro—dyw hynny ddim ar gael i ni bellach. Mae'n prifysgolion ni yn ymateb nawr i'r gofynion newydd, os hoffwch chi, ac mae'r agenda—fel y byddech chi'n ei ddisgwyl, efallai—yn wahanol, ac mae'n sefydliadau ni nawr yn ymateb i hynny. Mae rhan o'r buddsoddiad rŷn ni wedi ei wneud i'r Wales Innovation Network yn eu helpu nhw i gefnogi'n sefydliadau ni i fod hyd yn oed yn fwy cystadleuol, os hoffwch chi, yn y cyd-destun hwn.

Well, in responding to Reid, we've opened an office in London, we've created an innovation fund, via HEFCW, as well as investment for QR research—at a higher level than Reid called for, as it happens. We've created bursaries through HEFCW, which are worth around £4 million, with an emphasis on STEM specifically. And as we know, and it's been part of discussions that we've had as parties, there's a cross-Government strategy with regard to innovation currently under way. We've provided funding recently to support research—[Inaudible.]—with an additional £2 million to the Wales Innovation Network.

One of the challenges in future is that the funding landscape for research has changed significantly since the time of the Reid review. So, the broken promises by the UK Government in terms of research funding, and our ability to invest that in Wales, on the priorities that the people of Wales have elected us to deliver—that funding is no longer available to us. So, our universities are now responding to the new requirements, and the agenda—as you might expect—is different, and our institutions are responding to that. But our innovation network in Wales, and our investment in that, will be supporting our institutions to be even more competitive, if you will, in that new context.

Diolch. Rŷch chi wedi cyffwrdd ar hwn yn barod, sef pwnc y radd brentisiaethau. Felly, allaf i jest cadarnhau bod dyraniadau y gyllideb ddrafft yma yn golygu y bydd y radd brentisiaethau yn symud y tu hwnt i fod yn broject peilot, ac yn dod nôl i fod yn nodwedd barhaol o'r dirwedd addysg drydyddol? Felly, allwch chi jest esbonio unwaith eto sut ydych chi a Gweinidog yr Economi yn mynd i fod yn cydweithio i ariannu'r rhain, ac ydyn nhw'n mynd i gael eu hehangu, sef yr awgrym sydd yn un o ymrwymiadau'r rhaglen lywodraethu?

Thank you. You've touched on this already, namely this topic of the degree apprenticeships. So, may I just confirm that the allocations in this draft budget mean that degree apprenticeships will move beyond being a pilot project and become a permanent feature of the tertiary education landscape? So, could you just explain once again how you and the Minister for Economy are going to be working together to fund these, and are they going to be expanded, which is the suggestion made in the programme for government?

So, dyw e ddim yn y gyllideb bresennol, fel y gwnes i sôn jest yn fras yn gynharach. Ond y rheswm am hynny yw beth rydych chi wedi ei ddweud, a dweud y gwir—mae'n symud o fod yn beilot i fod yn rhywbeth sy'n mynd i gael ei brif-ffrydio, ac mewn ffordd sy'n ymateb i'r adolygiad ohono fe. Felly, rŷn ni'n trafod beth yw'r ymateb hwnnw ar hyn o bryd. Ond rwy'n gobeithio, ac yn disgwyl, a dweud y gwir, y bydd hynny'n arwain at ail-ddyrannu ar y gyllideb i mewn i'r gyllideb hon, i allu delifro'r rheini mewn ffordd sy'n ymateb i'r argymhellion yn yr adolygiad.

Well, it isn't in the current budget, as I just outlined earlier on. And the reason for that is exactly what you've said—it's moving from being a pilot to something that is being mainstreamed, and in a way that responds to the review of it. So, we are discussing what that response will be at the moment. But I hope and expect that that will lead to reallocation of the budget into the delivery of these in a way that responds to the recommendations in the review.

Ac yn gobeithio y bydd e'n cael ei ehangu?

And hope that that provision will be expanded?

Ocê. Diolch. Ac yn olaf, allwch chi gadarnhau sut mae cyllid ar gyfer y rhaglen gyfnewid ryngwladol ar gyfer dysgu yn 2022-23, a'r blynyddoedd i ddod, yn cymharu â'r gyllideb bresennol?

Thank you. And finally, can you confirm how funding for the international learning exchange programme in 2022-23, and future years, compares to the current budget?

Mae'r proffil yn union beth roeddwn i'n ei ddisgwyl. Felly, yn y flwyddyn gyntaf, 2020-21, fe wnaethon ni gyfrannu £6.5 miliwn ar gyfer staffio cychwynnol ac ati. Yr ail flwyddyn, hynny yw, y flwyddyn ariannol hon, yw'r un lle mae'r front-loading yn digwydd. Felly, mae rhyw £26 miliwn wedi cael ei wario yn y flwyddyn hon, oherwydd dyna lle mae'r buddsoddiad. Ac wedyn, ymhob blwyddyn nawr, am weddill y tymor hwn, bydd £6.5 miliwn yn cael ei ddyrannu o fy nghyllideb i, i sicrhau ein bod ni'n delifro hwnnw. Felly, mae'r cynllun yn dal yn gynllun dros y tymor, yn £65 miliwn, ac mae'r proffil gwariant yr un peth.

Well, the profile is exactly as we expected. So, in the first year, 2020-21, we contributed £6.5 million for initial staffing and so on. And the second year, this current financial year, is where that front-loading is taking place. So, around £26 million has been spent this year, because that's where the investment is required. And then, every year now, over the rest of this term, £6.5 million will be invested from my budget to ensure delivery of that. So, it's a plan that extends over the term, at £65 million, and the profile of expenditure remains the same.

Diolch. Diolch, Gadeirydd.

Thank you. Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, Sioned. Now, some final questions from Buffy Williams.

Does the £52 million increase in funding for the higher and further education sectors that your paper presents meet University Wales's call to at least maintain a real-terms level of investment?

In the HE budget? Yes, it does. I think it depends on what you compare it with, and if you compare it with the revised baseline budget, which is the like-for-like budget, then the good settlements that we've been able to provide for HE over recent years have been able to be maintained.

10:35

Thank you. Student grants in HE are due to increase, but the educational maintenance allowance and the Welsh Government learning grant remain static. Why is this, given the demographic changes, and will we see an increase to the weekly £30 EMA?

Well, so the forecasts that we have for EMA and, in fact, the Welsh Government learning grant are based on a combination, really, of two things: one is projections of student numbers and one is last year's data, basically, so it has a kind of levelling effect because of that. And if you show that—it actually shows a bit of a decline, so the projections are fairly static, in fact. We've done some modelling on this to see what the options would be and if we were to increase the EMA to £45 a week, which some have called for us to do, if you combine that with the income threshold changes, that would add an extra £10 million a year to the budget requirement. I think we will have heard what the First Minister said just before Christmas in relation to this, which is, unfortunately, unless we get settlements from the UK Government that are more appropriate—more generous, if you like—then this is the extent to which we can commit until that point, I'm afraid.

Thank you. What are the demographic changes to sixth forms and colleges, and how does the additional funding reflect this change?

Well, the final allocations to sixth forms and the FE colleges will—. The allocation to that hasn't yet been completed, but we will obviously provide for that. The demographic picture more generally, for example, in FE—. Some of the increase in the budget this year, which I think, for FE in particular, is, I think it's fair to say, the largest increase that we've seen for a number of years, really. I think some of that restores, obviously, previous, more challenging settlements for the sector. But some of that is around demographic change and some of it is around payroll increases; some of it is about renew and reform funding. So, there is a range of different ways in which that is broken down, really.

Thank you. Will you commit to publishing the 2022-23 local authority sixth form and adult community learning allocations when they are available?

Yes. Those allocations haven't yet been done, but at this point in the cycle, they often haven't been done. So, as soon as they're done, we'll publish them and we'll write to you with them. 

Okay, thank you. Does the budget take into account Audit Wales's conclusion that the pandemic has been more disruptive for those in the vocational sector at lower qualification levels and vulnerable learners?

Yes—yes, it does. I think what we've learnt from everything we've seen in terms of the impact of the pandemic is consistent with what the Audit Wales report tells us. And the funding that we've made available for renew and reform has reflected the particular challenges in post-16 transition years and for vulnerable learners. So, in a very real sense, that's been the underpinning, really, of the way we've allocated our renew and reform funding from the start. I mentioned in passing earlier that the Education Policy Institute has, if you like, commended us for having the most progressive response, in that it's reflected those particular groups who've had a particularly tough time and have had a particular set of challenges.

There's a piece of work going on at the moment, actually, which I hope to publish in February, I hope before the half-term recess, which looks at some of the work that's gone on in post-16 in terms of COVID response and what more we can do to share that best practice, if you like, about how the funding, which we've been able to make available, could be spent.

Thank you. How will the budget in 2023-24 reflect the fact that the new Commission for Tertiary Education and Research and HEFCW will exist at the same time? Beyond then, will there be changes to the structure of budget expenditure lines, for example, a single BEL for all of the funding under the commission's control?

Well, clearly, that will be a factor of the implementation plan for the transition to the new commission. I hope the legislation gets a fair passage. But you're right; there is a point in that transition that will now be a longer point, given the information I shared with the committee when I was being scrutinised on the Bill. There will be a longer period now of overlap, won't there? So, we will need to work through what that means in terms of how that's represented in the budget in a way that is transparent and enables you to hold me to account, if I'm still doing this job at that point, so it will be transparent. What that is today, I can't tell you—I don't know—but that will be part of the work that is ongoing in terms of the implementation plan.

10:40

Okay. How much of the £5 million funding for the young person's guarantee is in your budget, and in what BEL is it contained?

The young person's guarantee, if you like, is an umbrella structure that pulls together aspects of Government policy in Vaughan Gething's portfolio and also in mine, principally. So, there is a—[Inaudible.]—allocation, I think, in his budget for the NEET cohort of 2022-23, for example, but in addition there will be a range of budget lines in my budget, which will continue to fund that. So, some of that is around the FE budgets and the adult community learning budget, and aspects of that will all be pulled into how the guarantee is delivered. But there isn't a separate line, if you like, which is 'young person's guarantee', because it reflects existing offers. We're making them available to a wider cohort.

Thank you, Buffy. Are there any further questions from any Members to follow up on this? No. I can see everybody's content with the responses that you've given and have no further questions to follow, so that's the end of the scrutiny session today, Minister. Just to say thank you for attending and to your officials as well. You will be receiving a transcript in due course to check, but thank you for your attendance today.

3. Papurau i'w nodi
3. Papers to note

We'll now move on to the next item on the agenda, which is papers to note. We've got six papers to note. I'd just like to draw Members' attention to paper 1 to note, which is a letter from the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee regarding its inquiry into mental health inequalities, which is currently running. I suggest, if Members are content, that we write to the Chair of that committee to share our consultation responses that we had received over the summer, to make sure those are in the minds of the Health and Social Care Committee as well, and perhaps we could ask the Chair of that committee to keep us updated with the work that they're doing on that. Are Members content? I can see that Members are content. And so, are Members happy to note the rest of the papers as well—papers 1 to 6? I can see Members are content on that.

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod ac ar gyfer y cyfarfod cyfan ar 27 Ionawr
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting and for the whole of the meeting on 27 January

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod ac ar gyfer y cyfarfod cyfan ar 27 Ionawr yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting and for the whole of the meeting on 27 January in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

So, we will now move on to the next item, which is the motion to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting and for the whole meeting on 27 January. So, I propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42, that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of this meeting and for the whole of the meeting on 27 January. Are Members content? I see that Members are content. We will now proceed in private.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:44.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:44.