Details of the deal that brought the only Liberal Democrat AM into Carwyn Jones' cabinet have been released by the Welsh Government. In an exchange of letters, the First Minister sets out the key areas of agreement and Kirsty Williams warns him that as Education Secretary she will expect the money to be found for her priorities.
The agreement on education includes:
Reduced infant class sizes
An expanded Pupil Premium paid to schools to give extra help to children from deprived backgrounds
Prioritising schools' access to super-fast broadband
Promoting teaching excellence to raise standards across the board
Promoting and enhancing both academic and vocational routes into further and higher education
A review of the impact of current policy on surplus school places, with an emphasis on rural schools
In her letter, Kirsty Williams warns that those priorities won't come cheap:
I have emphasised in our discussions that a number of these priorities have significant budget implications and will need to be reflected as the Government’s forward budget plans take shape.
In his letter, Carwyn Jones also sets out other "ambitious, optimistic and innovative" proposals that Kirsty Williams has agreed with him.
An extended nurse staffing levels law
The recommendations of the Diamond Review [on student tuition fees] will be considered "with a view to early implementation where appropriate" but with no negative effect on the higher education budget
Funding for 20,000 extra affordable homes
A new ‘Rent to Own’ housing model
A funding floor for future local government settlements
A small grants scheme for Welsh agriculture
An end to discrimination against mental health patients
The First Minister also makes clear that although Kirsty Williams is not a member of the Labour party, she has no special licence to disagree publicly with any aspect of government policy,
As Cabinet Secretary for Education you are, of course, a fully fledged member of this Government and you will play a full role in Cabinet deliberations. In addition you and I will meet regularly to ensure that the terms of our agreement are being met and to discuss other issues as they arise. As the Ministerial Code makes clear, collective responsibility is binding on all of us in Government and this calls for a disciplined and consistent approach to conducting business.