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North Wales MS raises concerns about impact of ‘significant’ cuts to post-16 education

A NORTH Wales MS has raised concerns about the impact of “significant” cuts the post-16 education budget.

Llŷr Gruffydd, who represents the region in the Senedd, is worried about the effect the reduction could have on the mental health and wellbeing of young people in the area.

The Plaid Cymru politician highlighted a cut of nearly £13 million from post-16 education provision and over £7 million from personal learning accounts, as he challenged the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education, Lynne Neagle, on the issue in the Senedd.

The cuts will impact higher education institutions that operate in North Wales, such as Coleg Cambria, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.

ColegauCymru, a charity that acts as a voice for further education in Wales, recently launched new research which highlights the social value of further education colleges in Wales.

It has warned that the sector is currently navigating a challenging period because the public purse under intense pressure and changes to the education infrastructure.

Its report, Demonstrating the Social Value of FE colleges in Wales, emphasises the key contributions colleges make to local communities, public services and industries.

Its wellbeing goals, against which its data is measures, are for a Wales that is prosperous, resilient, healthier, more equal, has more cohesive communities, a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language, and is globally responsible.

It describes colleges as anchor institutions, that make a significant contribution to their respective local economies and communities.

Challenging the Cabinet Secretary in the Senedd, Llŷr Gruffydd MS said: “We know that cultivating a skilled workforce helps create a prosperous, resilient Wales, which are some of our well-being goals. But also providing robust support systems integrated into educational settings can help with mental and physical health as well, and a healthier Wales is another one of those goals.

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“So how did the Government consider those wider societal impacts when you introduced the recent cuts to budgets for post-16 education funding?

“When you cut nearly £13 million from post-16 education provision and over £7 million from personal learning accounts, did you assess, did you consider, did you even realise the effect that would have, not only on the further education institutions in question, but on Welsh society and the well-being goals more broadly, as have been highlighted in the ColegauCymru report?”

In response Lynne Neagle MS said: “Reductions to the post-16 provision budget expenditure line have, wherever possible, been directed so as not to impact learners.”

Following the exchange in the Senedd, Llyr Gruffydd MS said: “The cuts that have been made to post-16 education provision and from personal learning accounts are significant and they are bound to have a negative impact on young people in North Wales.

“I am concerned about the impact that they will have on mental health and wellbeing outcomes.

“If the Welsh Government truly cares about the wellbeing of future generations it must ensure that it provides adequate resources to support their needs and aspirations.”

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