The Grants for Education Support and Training (GEST) programme continues to focus on reducing social disadvantage with over£10m being made available this year for this purpose. Schools which are furthest from achieving the national targets for Wales will continue be targeted for further assistance.
'We have also looked closely at the way in which funding is distributed across Wales and have taken steps to ensure that the funding formula directs more resources to the most disadvantaged areas of Wales'.
The GEST programme gives increased emphasis on improved continuity and progression across the key stages. Over£6m will go to assist schools and authorities with the implementation of their education strategic plans, to support pupils moving from primary to secondary school, and to reduce bureaucratic burdens on teachers.
Funding for special educational needs has increased to over£4m. A new Priority Area has been developed to provide support for speech and language therapy for those with special needs. And account has been taken of the both SEN and Disability Act 2001 and the revised SEN Code of Practice for Wales.
Support will be given to help implement the Physical Education and School Sport Action Plan for Wales which will promote greater and wider and participation in sport. This should make a vital contribution to improving the health and fitness of our young people leaving a lasting legacy in adulthood where exercise becomes an integral part of people's everyday life.
The Classroom Support Fund has been retained after a three year initial period. The majority of this funding is being used to employ classroom assistants to specifically help reduce the bureaucratic burdens on teachers.
We are also supporting the raising of standards by putting£8.4m into the revised National Curriculum and the associated Personal and Social Education and Work Related Education frameworks.
£8.4m will be made available for schools to further enhance their information communications technology facilities and just as importantly, to help train teachers to make full use of the equipment in their daily teaching. This is on top of the£16.6m on the ICT for Learning initiative and£9.8m Whiteboard and Multimedia Equipment grant which was announced last year.
£7.5m has been set aside to enhance the opportunities for heads, teachers and governors to develop their professional skills .
Support for extra curricular activities has funding of£3.7m including the Music Development Fund (MDF) (which provided£8m over the last three years to help increase the opportunities for pupils to develop their musical skills).
Welsh in the National Curriculum/Transferring to Welsh Medium Education receives funding of£4.4m. Co-ordination of pre-school education will be supported by£1m through Early Years Learning and Literacy and numeracy strategies will continue to be developed in all LEAs with nearly£5m being invested in 2002/3.
Following the comprehensive reorganisation of the GEST programme last year, Local Education Authorities (LEAs) have been given a period of stability to adjust to the new arrangements during 2002/3. This will help authorities to accommodate the significant changes in the distribution of formula shares which have arisen from the completed GEST formula review.