COUNCILLORS have raised concerns that proposed cuts to school budgets will hit teachers hard in Caerphilly.

Schools in the borough will have to find savings totalling £2.1million in the next financial year under the council's budget plans which are out for consultation.

A council report says it is expected schools will have to reduce staff numbers as 80 per cent of school budgets are typically staff-related.

At a meeting of Caerphilly council's education for life scrutiny committee on Tuesday, Cllr Wynne David (Labour, St Cattwg ward) said the council was looking at "quite a few redundancies."

"The fact is that as far as schools are concerned any cut has an impact on staffing because 80 per cent of the budget of schools is spent on teachers," said Cllr David.

Keri Cole, chief education officer, said the council is having to make overall savings of £15.6million next year, the largest amount since it was formed in 1996.

Ms Cole said the authority had attempted to give "some certainty" to schools by not budgeting for potential government money which may or may not become available.

Cllr Martyn James (Plaid Cymru, Ystrad Mynach) raised concerns that funding cuts were increasing stress levels among teachers.

Figures, announced by Cllr James at the meeting, show there were 270 stress-related absences in mainstream schools in Caerphilly in 2017/18. And from April to September this year the figure is 158.

Cllr James said: "There's no extra money so the pressure is coming down on to the schools and on to the staff.

"If we keep cutting it is affecting the pupils and it is affecting the staff and their families.

"What are we going to do, apart from cut, to support their well-being?"

Cllr Derek Havard (Labour, Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen), chairman of the committee, said he was 'alarmed' by the figures quoted.

He said: "I think we ought to be concerned about this and we need to know if it's increasing."

In response, Ms Cole said the figures quoted were 'alarming' but that they were not evenly spread across the authority and that stress-related absences would differ from school to school.

Ms Cole said the council supports head teachers and governing bodies to "establish cultures" where staff are being looked after.

Caerphilly council said the figures quoted were not solely linked to work-related stress, but could be attributed to a range of issues including anxiety, depression, low mood and stress, both personal and work-related.

Richard Edmunds, director of education and corporate services, added: “Our workforce is our most important asset and the wellbeing of staff is a key priority for the council.”