South West Wales

School grant red tape worry of Pembrokeshire director

An outgoing council education director says there is too much bureaucracy when applying for grants to improve school buildings in Wales.

Gerson Davies, who is retiring from his post with Pembrokeshire council, said sourcing funding was an "awfully cumbersome process."

He highlighted an assembly government fund called 21st Century Schools.

The assembly government said the assessment process was drawn up and agreed in partnership with councils.

Since becoming director of education in 1996, Mr Davies has overseen the closure of about 30 schools, with the number of primary schools in Pembrokeshire dropping from 93 to 62.

He retires at the end of August after 14 years in the post.

He told BBC Wales: "There are a multiplicity of grants... and each one of those has its process... and that consumes money.

"If you look at the 21st Century Schools fund - there's an awfully cumbersome process, it's paper-loaded."

He's also said education officials around Wales needed backing from their local politicians when school reorganisations and closures were required to get rid of surplus places.

An assembly government spokesperson said the Welsh Local Government Association was a partner in the 21st Century Schools programme.

"The programme, launched by the education minister in March this year, is a collaboration between the Welsh Assembly Government and local authorities to pool together resources and expertise to invest in school modernisation across all of Wales," they added.

"Under this new system, local authorities need to think about investment more strategically rather than focussing on small-scale projects, and to move away from annual formulaic funding towards funding of strategic programmes of investment."

It said the assessment process was approved by a programme board including Mr Davies, who represented the Association of Directors of Education in Wales.

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