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Exclusive: 800 school staff redundancies after funding cuts

Schools are warning there will be an impact on standards in the classroom as many have had to make redundancies. Photo: PA

An ITV News investigation has revealed that more than 800 teachers and school support staff are being made redundant around Wales.

Exclusive figures, obtained via Freedom of Information requests, also show a further 100 school posts at risk of redundancy.

Teaching unions say the "unprecedented level of job loss" is due to budget cuts and under-funding of schools here, and will inevitably have an impact on pupils and standards of learning.

The Welsh Government insists it has met its commitment to protect school funding from the degree of cuts passed down from Westminster.

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The amount of money spent per pupil in Wales has fallen this year for the first time in a decade.

For 2015-16, it is £5,526, a decrease from last year of 1.1 per cent, or £64 per pupil.

Overall, school funding is £2.496bn, 1 per cent down on last year.

THE SCALE OF THE REDUNDANCIES

Many schools say that a reduction in funding this year, after several years of significant budget pressures, meant they have had to look for redundancies, as staff make up the majority of their costs.

20 of Wales' 22 local authorities have provided figures on teacher and support staff redundancies, in response to our Freedom of Information requests.

Support staff range from teaching assistants to caretakers, secretaries and technicians.

Wales total (full-time equivalent posts):

  • Agreed redundancies - 808
  • Additional redundancies earmarked - 99
  • Agreed teachers redundancies - 364
  • Agreed support staff redundancies - 444

A small majority of the redundancies are voluntary, meaning just under half are compulsory. It is difficult to be any more precise, due to local authorities providing the figures in different forms.

There are around 25,000 teachers and 25,000 support staff in state schools in Wales, according to 2014 figures. The redundancies therefore make up between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent of the school workforce.

Find out how your local area is affected...

Redundancies for 2015-16 (full-time equivalent posts):

  • Anglesey - 4 agreed (3 teachers, 1 support staff), 8 additional earmarked
  • Blaenau Gwent - 12 agreed (7 teachers, 5 support staff), 1 additional earmarked
  • Bridgend - figures not provided
  • Caerphilly - 4 agreed (2 teachers, 2 support staff), 5 additional earmarked
  • Cardiff - figures not yet provided
  • Carmarthenshire - 59 agreed (36 teachers, 23 support staff), 3 additional earmarked
  • Ceredigion - 46 agreed (27 teachers, 19 support staff)
  • Conwy - 7 agreed (7 support staff)
  • Denbighshire - 6 agreed (3 teachers, 3 support staff), 16 additional earmarked
  • Flintshire - 32 agreed (16 teachers, 16 support staff)
  • Gwynedd - 47 agreed (25 teachers, 22 support staff)
  • Merthyr Tydfil - 50 earmarked (10 teachers, 40 support staff)
  • Monmouthshire - 37 agreed (13 teachers, 24 support staff)
  • Neath Port Talbot - 83 agreed (29 teachers, 54 support staff), 16 additional earmarked
  • Newport - 5 agreed (5 teachers)
  • Pembrokeshire - 35 agreed (18 teachers, 17 support staff)
  • Powys - 65 agreed (29 teachers, 36 additional support staff)
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf - 142 agreed (60 teachers, 82 support staff)
  • Swansea - 117 agreed (51 teachers, 66 support staff)
  • Torfaen - 44 agreed (11 teachers, 33 support staff)
  • Vale of Glamorgan - 25 agreed (11 teachers, 14 support staff)
  • Wrexham - 38 agreed (18 teachers, 20 support staff)
Rhondda Cynon Taf has the highest number of redundancies. Credit: PA

IMPACT ON LEARNING

Many of the redundancies will have been identified after the start of the financial year in April and, often, after notice periods that include the summer holidays, will mean staff finish school this week, and don't return in September.

A significant number of individual staff will have been redeployed, or found work elsewhere, with their posts in school being made redundant.

Schools and teaching unions here say the cuts to staffing levels will have a major impact on pupils and their learning.

Dr Philip Dixon, Director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru, told us he was "horrified" to see the scale of redundancies.

There will be fewer teachers in their schools; there will be fewer learning assistants in their schools, that will mean bigger class sizes, it will mean less professional expertise. The quality of education is going to suffer because of that.

It is largely happening because of budget cuts, that's partly because of the austerity agenda being driven by Westminster. It's also a result of the historically the Welsh Government under funding education year-on-year. Our members are telling us that it's the worst year by far and they're afraid it is going to get much worse.

– Dr Philip Dixon, Director of ATL Cymru

Rex Phillips, NASUWT National Official for Wales, said "it is unrealistic to expect the year-on-year improvement in standards in Welsh schools to be maintained against an ever decreasing school workforce."

The information that has been revealed through the ITV News Freedom of Information requests has confirmed our view that there has been an unprecedented level of job loss in schools across Wales this year.

There are key issues that need to be addressed if redundancy is not going to continue to blight the ability of schools to maintain their staffing levels and standards and to cause hardship and misery to those that lose their jobs.

– Rex Phillips, NASUWT National Official for Wales
Teaching unions fear a rise in class sizes due to reduced school staff. Credit: PA

The Welsh Government says it is "extremely proud that through the tough times the Welsh Government has been there to shelter schools from the worst of the cuts" imposed by Westminster.

Workforce planning and staffing are both matters for local authorities and are not issues on which the Welsh Government can intervene. However it is important to recognise that workforce changes can be driven by a range of factors including school reorganisation, fluctuating pupil numbers, funding and changing priorities at a local, regional or national level.

As promised, we have met our commitment to increase funding for Welsh schools by 1% above the money we receive from Westminster. This has meant an additional £106m has been made available for Welsh schools over the course of this Assembly term. Local authorities have also played their part and many have exceeded the required level of protection over the Assembly term.

We are extremely proud that through the tough times the Welsh Government has been there to shelter schools from the worst of the cuts. On top of this we have made available significant additional funding for schools through for example the Pupil Deprivation Grant, the value of which is over £82m this year and is entirely in addition to the protection funding for 2015-16.

– Welsh Government spokesperson