Memorandum submitted by Mark Harper MP
LIVING NEAR A BORDER
The teaching of Welsh in Welsh state schools
is now part of the National Curriculum for Wales.
English pupils living in England are eligible to attend a nearby
Welsh school but have to study Welsh up to year 11 (GCSE). Pupils
in Tidenham, in the South Forest of Dean, for example, may attend
Chepstow School but have to study Welsh even though they may never
have any further exposure to Welsh culture. Every school day,
a bus transports pupils from Ross on Wye in England to Monmouth
Comprehensive School in Wales where they will be taught Welsh.
And a bus, travelling the other way, takes Welsh children to the
John Kyrle School in Ross on Wye where they will not be taught
Welsh Independent schools do not have to provide
for Welsh teaching.
Central powers provide funding to the devolved
powers on the same basis as it provides funding to the English
Local Education Authorities, ie. a non ring-fenced sum derived
from standard parametric equations that incorporate pupil numbers
and their characteristics. The devolved power represents an extra
layer of administration and, hence, an extra financial burden.
English people who have to deal with public
services in Wales can either be put at a disadvantage with Welsh
people, in the case of public transport, or other English people,
in the case of healthcare.
People very close to each other can therefore
find that their experience of public services in border areas
is very different. This is a direct result of certain aspects
of the devolution settlement. Part of the problem with this system
is that English people use Welsh public services in a variety
of circumstances, but have no ability to influence services through
the ballot box. There is also perceived unfairness in the amount
of money that devolved nations get from the UK government and
the resulting improved servicesfor example, free prescriptions
The Government compounds this problem by referring
to national schemes to mean England only, not the UK. Clarity
of meaning and communication is therefore also essential.
Future developments in the process of devolution
need to consider the impact changes in the policy will have on
those that live close to the border and how local services in
border areas will be affected.
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