Friday, 16 September 2016

School cuts could get worse

Column published in Llaneli Star on 14th September 2016

Having spent 7 years as a primary school Chair of Governors I know from first hand experience how hard teachers work, and the difference they make.

I also know how thinly resources are spread, and how tricky it can be to balance the books to make sure there are enough teachers and Learning Support Assistants in our classrooms.

That’s why First Minister Carwyn Jones pledged to protect school spending despite the cuts the Welsh Government are facing - a 3% drop this year again.

But school budgets are administered from County Hall not Cardiff Bay, so even though the money can be passed on to Councils there’s no guarantee that is passed on to schools.

Even though the Welsh Government’s budget was cut by the Tories by 3%, the money we passed on to Carmarthenshire Council was protected from the brunt of the cuts.

Our County’s funding was just 0.1% less than last year. And yet the money being received by schools themselves is down by £3.4 million.

When they were in Opposition in Carmarthenshire Plaid Cymru jumped on every bandwagon that passed, and pledged to spend more on education. But now they have their hands on the levers of power it is a different story. Free car parking for Llanelli, you must be joking. More money for schools?

No, instead teachers are being made redundant.

There are job losses in Bigyn, Brynteg, Dafen, Brynsierfel, Dafen, and Ysgol y Felin Primary schools. Coedcae Comprehensive school has already suffered losses and is looking at further cuts. Furthermore vacant teachers posts are being left unfilled in Pentip primary and Lakefield primary is operating without a Headteacher.

From speaking to headteachers and Governors it’s clear that there is real fear about what lies ahead if Plaid-run Carmarthenshire Council don’t change their priorities. Headteachers have worked miracles to minimise the impact on children but if there are more cuts in the pipeline there will be hell to play.

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