DOZENS of teachers and hundreds of teaching assistants in Newport primary schools could face losing their jobs under council funding plans.
Secondary school teachers have, meanwhile, warned cost savings could have a “devastating” impact on youngsters - as the Argus reported today.
Although Newport City Council’s draft budget for the 2017-2018 financial year does not cut funding for schools, teachers have warned the fact there is no increase - along with spending reductions in previous years - in fact represents a real-terms drop of £3 million, or six per cent, when inflation and other costs such as pay rises are taken into account.
A letter to the council by the Newport Association of Primary Head Teachers has claimed the city’s primaries would have, on average, seven per cent less funding in 2017-2018 than they did five years earlier, equating to £227 per pupil.
The letter signed by the organisation’s chairwoman, Monnow Primary headteacher Meryl Echeverry, said: “The proposed budget will have a devastating impact on primary education in Newport and will inevitably result in the need to restructure staffing in the vast majority of primary schools.
“There is very little scope to make savings within other budgets outside of staffing as these efficiency savings and cuts have already been implemented over the past five years.”
She added the jobs of 79 teachers or 229 teaching assistants would be put at risk.
“It goes without saying that this would have a detrimental effect on pupil standards, the ability to meet Estyn and curriculum requirements, health and safety and staff and pupil well-being,” she said.
“Collectively, primary head teachers are extremely concerned with and opposed to the proposed budget, owing to our subsequent ability and capacity to continue to provide the best possible education for the children of Newport.”
Secondary school heads have also written to the council detailing similar concerns.
The letter, signed by the chairman of the Conference of Newport Secondary Headteachers, and head of St Joseph’s RC High School, Trevor Brown, said the addition of two new comprehensives - one for youngsters with special needs and the Welsh language Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed - would see ten sites forced to deal with the same budget as the previous eight.
“As headteachers and schools we have the joy and privilege of making a difference to the lives of the young people in our care and it is our work that can bring confidence and coherence to some of our fragile communities,” he said.
“However, if these proposals were to be approved, the effect on secondary education in Newport would be devastating.”
He added the plans would result in the loss of 56 teachers, or seven per school, or 160 teaching assistants, or 20 per school, and would place Newport in last position in Wales in terms of secondary school funding.
“If the proposals were to be approved and go ahead, please be fully aware of the long term damage that will be made to each of our 8 secondary schools and the knowledge that we will have all collectively failed in denying the young people we serve, the education they deserve,” he said.
The council’s cabinet member for education and young people, councillor Gail Giles, said: “Providing excellent education for all our students is of course a major priority for the council.
“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.”
The budget will be discussed by the council’s Labour-run cabinet on Monday February 20, and will be signed off by the full council on Thursday March 2.
To view the council’s draft budget click here.