THE chairman of governors for Caerleon Comprehensive School has slammed proposed “cuts” by Newport City Council.
In a letter seen by the South Wales Argus, John Parfitt, chairman of the governing body for Caerleon Comprehensive School, said he is “appalled” with Newport council’s “planned cuts” for schools – as revealed in Newport City Council’s draft budget for 2017-2018.
A letter previously submitted to the council on behalf of the Conference of Newport Secondary Head Teachers said that collectively the heads were “gravely concerned” about the budget.
Despite a planned increase in the education budget of 1.8 per cent, the letter claims that the addition of two new schools – a new special school and Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed – to the proposed budget, will spread the available money too thin.
The current draft budget 2017/18 for schools totals £167,592,000.
In a strongly-worded letter to the chief education officer James Harris, Mr Parfitt spoke of the governing body’s “absolute opposition” to the proposals.
It reads: “The governing body is particularly concerned that in respect of this school, the budget cuts, when considered alongside unavoidable pressures from other sources amount to £250,000. This amount cannot be absorbed by a school.
“The 8.2 per cent cut in real terms to our budget is unsustainable, it is unfair and it will result in a fall in performance at a time when the school and its staff and pupils are working flat out to continue delivering improved performance.”
Mr Parfitt said that the school has “pared its costs to the bone”, which included reducing teacher numbers by “almost 18 per cent over the past six years”.
The letter then suggests that if the education budget “is in such a parlous state” no further costs should be incurred “by building two more schools”.
A council spokeswoman said: “Newport City Council is considering savings proposals totalling nearly £3.5 million as it looks to close a budget gap of over £5 million in the next financial year. The council has seen a real-term reduction of 0.7 per cent to its Revenue Settlement Grant from Welsh Government and is expecting further cuts in the coming years. This grant accounts for around 80 per cent of the council’s budget.
“The cabinet will consider all feedback received when they meet on February 20 before making any final recommendations.”
Caerleon councillor Gail Giles, cabinet member for education and young people, said: “Additional funding has been consistently given to schools over the last few years – either meeting or exceeding the level of the Welsh Government pledge – and we support them wherever possible to best manage the resources available to them.
“We have received a number of representations relating to the forthcoming year’s budget and we are considering them very carefully before making any final decisions.”