HEADTEACHERS across Blaenau Gwent have warned councillors that further budget cuts could result in redundancies, larger class sizes and a reduced curriculum.

As Blaenau Gwent council decides on budget proposals for the year ahead, pleas have been made from teachers across the borough to protect education budgets.

At a joint scrutiny meeting of budget plans on Wednesday, they warned that placing additional costs on to schools could result in redundancies and relying on teachers from agencies being employed on zero hours contracts.

Mr Paul Keane, headteacher at Willowtown Primary in Ebbw Vale, read out testimonials from 11 headteachers across the borough.

In one of the testimonials, a headteacher warned the school had lost more than 15 staff in two years, having halved the number of teaching assistants and not replaced teachers who had left.

Real term funding cuts could leave the school having to lose another teaching assistant, the meeting heard.

Another said the school's budget had been "stripped to the bone", yet there was still an expectation for standards to improve.

"The greatest resource any of us have in our schools are staff and sadly we are losing them at an alarming rate," the headteacher's testimonial said.

"The future for Blaenau Gwent is a grim one should these cuts continue to be made."

Warnings were also heard that cuts could leave schools in a deficit for the first time.

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Among budget proposals is cutting an inflationary increase of two per cent for individual school budgets to one per cent, bringing a saving of £421,650.

Over recent years school balances have decreased from £1.55m in 2014/2015 to just £280,000 in 2017/2018.

Another proposal is to transfer the cost of DBS checks for staff to schools, saving the council £15,000.

But Mr Huw Lloyd, head of Ebbw Fawr Learning Community, warned savings proposed could end up costing the council, with increased redundancy costs and potential increases in tribunals as students were left without appropriate support.

"My plea is please protect school budgets because we are at breaking point and if it goes on as it is we are going to have to lose teachers, or decrease the support needed for children in a future where we need more and not less," he added.

Mr Ian Roberts, head teacher at Canol-yr-Afon SEBD 3 – 16 school, added that schools have to be supported to provide children with an opportunity for a better future.

Lynette Jones, corporate director of education, told the meeting none of the proposals had been considered lightly.

Ms Jones said the council was working with schools on how best to manage the reduction in the council's financial position.