The Welsh Government has announced an additional £72 million worth of support to school pupils in Wales.

Spending is expected to rise to £239 per pupil, the highest in the UK.

The funding will include the continuation of the Government's recruitment programme into the next academic year, as well as extra learning resources and support for foundation phase learners in schools and childcare settings.

The equivalent of 1,800 extra full-time school staff have been recruited in schools across Wales to provide extra support during the pandemic, doubling the original target of 900.

The additional funding will also be used to support 1,400 trainee teachers currently in training, enabling them to complete their qualifications and move into full-time teaching.

Learners in years 11, 12 and 13 will be targeted with additional support to help them transition to the next stage of their education.

Welsh Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, said: “We all know it’s been a difficult period for learners and staff.

"Schools and colleges have done terrific work in ensuring learning has continued, while putting preparations in place so the return of learners is as smooth as possible.

“I know that extra help is needed, especially for learners at key stages in their academic careers and in their lives.

"As learners continue to go back to face-to-face learning, we are providing this additional funding to ensure support is in place when our young people return to the classroom."

The Education Policy Institute has previously found that Wales’ catch up programmes are "far better targeted at their most disadvantaged pupils”, than elsewhere in the UK.

Responding to a question from The National at the Government’s Covid press briefing, Ms Williams said the new funding will continue to target those who need it most.

“We need to give powers to headteachers to make staffing decisions that reflect the individual needs of their schools.

“While all children’s education has been interrupted, we do know that there are cohorts of children on whom the effects of the pandemic have been the greatest.

"Often, they are our most disadvantaged children or those with additional needs.

“The money will be made available to school settings for headteachers to use that money to employ additional staff that can help children.

“Last week I visited a school in Splott in Cardiff and so far, our funding has been used to recruit new teaching assistants in the foundation phase that are spending all their time working on the literacy and oral skills of the children.

“In a high school, they have applied a remote science and physics teacher to provide additional tutoring for those who are taking physical A level.

“In another school they have been able to reduce class sizes for English language classes."

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The minister also urged parents and pupils to use Covid testing being rolled out to pupils and staff in schools.

Lateral flow tests are being offered to older pupils in years 10 to 13 as they return to school, although they are not mandatory.