Nearly 75% of Welsh schools looking at redundancies next year, warn headteachers
Nearly three-quarters of schools in Wales are looking at redundancies next year due to the ongoing funding crisis, school leaders’ union NAHT Cymru has warned.
Following a survey from 670 school leaders in Wales, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) Cymru said around three quarters (73%) say they will have to make teaching assistants redundant or reduce their hours.
More than half (61%) say they are looking at reducing the number of teachers or teaching hours.
Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said: “Schools are being hit by a perfect storm of costs. In attempting to balance their budgets, school leaders are being faced with eye-watering energy bills, spiralling costs to resources and supplies, and the financial impact of an unfunded pay increase this year.
“With no fat left to cut following a decade of austerity, many thousands of schools are now looking at falling into deficit unless they make swingeing cuts. Education is truly in a perilous state.”
The report finds more than a third (38%) of schools say they will go into deficit this year, unless they make further cuts, and just 5% of schools say they will be able to pay their costs next academic year without going into deficit – meaning more than 9 in 10 schools won’t be able to balance their budgets without drastic action.
Since most schools are not permitted to operate a deficit budget, they must make significant cuts to remain in the black.
Close to half (48%) of schools said they would be forced to reduce non-educational support and services for children next year, and over half (56%) said they would have to reduce spending on additional targeted interventions for pupils requiring additional support.
Mr Whiteman continued: “After a decade of austerity, schools have made all the easy savings already. The only things left to cut are things that will have a real immediate impact on children – and especially those who are already the most disadvantaged and vulnerable. This goes against everything school leaders strive for, and the anger and desperation I am hearing from my members is unprecedented.
“Schools are finding that they have no option but to make redundancies. A reduction in teaching assistants and teachers will be catastrophic, leading to larger class sizes and less support for children with the greatest needs. This cannot be allowed to happen.”
Plaid Cymru has called for an emergency budget to tackle underfunding in schools in Wales.
Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for children and young people, Heledd Fychan MS said: “The results of this survey are a sobering reminder of the real-life impact of what the Tories in Westminster have already done to the economy. It’s also a taste of what more austerity will mean for schools across the UK.
“Teachers have been instrumental in supporting thousands of children and young people in Wales throughout one of the most difficult periods in living memory. The very least they deserve is recognition for that. Instead, what they’re getting is a below inflation pay rise, cuts, and forced redundancies. Enough is enough.
“The Welsh Government’s budget is insufficient and under further strain which is yet more evidence that Westminster will never serve the needs of Wales. But it still has levers it can pull.
“The Labour Welsh Government should produce an Emergency Budget for the current financial year to reallocate and reschedule some of its present plans to refocus priority on tackling the cost of living.”
‘Kick in the teeth’
Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Minister, Laura Anne Jones MS said: “Schools in Wales need proper support from the Labour Government, sorely lacking at present. School budgets are stretched enough from ever increasing demands on them from the Welsh Government, with no or little money to follow those directives.
“Wales has already seen a 10% fall in teacher numbers since 2011, which represents 4,000 fewer teachers despite there being 7,000 more students. Further staff cuts would add to the growing pressures faced by schools and would be a kick in the teeth to teachers, having worked hard and done so well during the Covid pandemic.
“Labour have critically underfunded education in Wales for too long. They hold the levers of power, with education devolved, they have no one to blame but themselves.”
There were similar findings from the NAHT in England, with two thirds (66%) of headteachers saying they will have to make teaching assistants redundant or reduce their hours.
Half (50%) of respondents said they are looking at reducing the number of teachers or teaching hours.
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This would be awful. A good education and love of learning is (with a little bit of luck) the only way out of poverty and into better future.
In 2022 we are considering making teachers redundant, this is supposed to be the Knowledge or Information Age where education matters now more than ever. How can we hope to compete with other countries if we can afford to properly educate our children? Clearly Mark Drakeford’s UK insurance policy of relying on UK Government funds isn’t working. Mark please put Wales first and not your beloved British Labour Party
This is disgraceful, schools are already over stretched! If they do this, they should not expect the same / better standard of education.
And our children will suffer!