Leaders of teacher unions in Gwynedd today condemned the "catastrophic impact” that £4.3m of proposed cuts to schools’ budgets from next April would have on education in the county.
Schools have been threatened with cuts of 6.3% to implement the savings required by the council.
Neil Foden, speaking on behalf of the Gwynedd teacher unions, said:
“This is a looming disaster for education in Gwynedd. Some schools could lose up to half a million pounds as a result of the council trying to live within the money allocated to it by the Welsh Government. It makes a mockery of the public’s belief that education is going to be more generously funded as a result of the Welsh Government’s promise to fund education at 1% above allocation.
“This could see larger, mixed age classes in primary schools and whole subjects disappearing from the secondary school curriculum. Already more than thirty schools have begun the redundancy process, including almost three quarters of the secondary schools, and we expect at least 40% of the county’s primaries to be in financial difficulties.
“Given that in many areas of Gwynedd pupil numbers are still declining, which reduces the allocation to schools, and the Welsh Government’s under-funding of sixth forms, we now face a double blow of reduced funding and cuts. In the past, the council has been prepared to offset savings from reduced numbers against the cuts but this year has refused to do so.
“It is clear that the scale of the cuts vary significantly from county to county. We wonder how authorities such as Wrexham appear able to largely protect schools when in Gwynedd many risk being financially crippled.”
A survey conducted by Wales’ largest teaching union has uncovered the extent to which the controversial literacy and numeracy tests have impacted on the education workforce. NUT Cymru, after repeating a survey they undertook in 2013, says the results highlight some serious concerns relating to the workload associated with the tests as well as the lack of impact they are having on attainment.
NUT Cymru said that results of the survey this year echo responses from 2013 and show a pattern of dissatisfaction in the policy from the teaching sector.
Wales’ largest teaching union has called on the Welsh Government to follow the lead of Westminster and initiate a consultation on teachers’ workload concerns. The Department for Education in England have openly recognised that teachers are facing burdensome workloads and the consultation is designed to give teachers the opportunity to highlight the problems they are facing. NUT Cymru have written to the Minister for Education urging him to initiate a similar consultation in Wales.
David Evans, NUT Wales Secretary said:
“It is positive to see the Department for Education in Westminster not only recognise what the NUT have been saying for some time, that teachers are facing unsustainable workload pressures, but also announcing a consultation to seek to address those problems. Of course action speaks louder than words and the coalition Government will be judged on what they implement following the consultation. Still, announcing the consultation in the first instance is a step in the right direction.
“We have written to the Welsh Government urging them to take a similar approach here. NUT Cymru are inundated with concerns from members at the scale of workload they are facing, much of which has little or nothing to do with improving education standards. This workload concern is not only impacting on the well-being of teachers, it is also having a detrimental effect on learning outcomes. Tackling the issue really is a win-win for both teachers and pupils.
“There is huge scope to reduce the workload teachers are dealing with while supporting the highest standards possible in our schools. Hopefully the Minister will capitalise on this opportunity.”
Details of the DfE consultation can be viewed here.
Wales’ largest teaching union has called on Estyn to follow Ofsted’s lead and produce a clarification document tackling the misconceptions around school inspections. The document published by Ofsted outlines what it does not expect schools to do or provide during, or before, inspection. It states, for example, that Ofsted DOES NOT:
Wales’ largest teaching union has warned that initiatives will collapse and standards will drop if in-year budget cuts are pushed through by the Welsh Government. NUT Cymru said that the progress that has been made in Welsh education in recent months has been put in jeopardy by the decision to claw back millions in finance from schools. The union has written to the Finance Minister and the Minister for Education outlining their concern and is calling for a rethink to the plans.
NUT Wales Secretary David Evans said:
“Make no mistake, the claw back of millions of pounds of funding as part of in-year budget cuts will have a profound impact on the education sector in Wales. Should these cuts go ahead then the real progress that has been made in recent months, the great GCSE and A Level results; the improvements at Foundation Phase; the improvements in attendance figures as well as a host of other positives we are seeing in classrooms across Wales will be put at risk. We are potentially jeopardising not just the strides we have taken but future successes.
Wales' largest union has welcomed the decision by the Welsh Government to scrap the banding system to coincide with the introduction of a categorisation model for school performance. NUT Cymru, who have led the opposition against banding, said that stopping that system was an important step in engaging parents, pupils and teachers in school performance.
NUT Cymru Secretary, David Evans, said:
"We are very pleased that the Welsh Government has listened to the concerns that NUT Cymru have been highlighting ever since the start of the banding system. School banding had lost all credibility and it had clearly run its course. The Education Minister should be commended for recognising that and for putting in place a new model.
NUT Cymru has hit out at plans by the Welsh Government to raid the grant paid to schools to plug financial gaps in the NHS in Wales.
NUT Cymru Secretary, David Evans, said: “The letter sent to Leaders and Chief Executives of councils across Wales by the Minister, Huw Lewis will alarm schools and authorities alike.”
“Given that education spending in Wales was £604 per pupil less than in England several years ago when the Welsh Government was still prepared to produce comparative figures, this reduction will further deprive schools of much needed funding to meet the Welsh Government’s objectives at a time when raising standards and countering social deprivation are supposed to be the Government’s highest priorities.”
Wales Executive member, Neil Foden, said: “If this cut is carried through, it will cause major problems for many schools and significantly hamper their ability to focus on staff development and the education of our most deprived pupils. The letter suggests cuts in grants for the present financial year, grants which have, to a large extent, been delegated to schools who will have entered into contracts with staff using grant funding. If money is to be clawed back from delegated grants, schools will be left to try and fund commitments from their own resources which could push a number into the red by March.
“If this this isn’t a planned reduction for next year but a cut in the current year, and given the instability created in the secondary sector in particular by the Government’s apparent inability to devise a consistent and coherent method for funding sixth forms, it makes a mockery of the hours spent in every school planning how to implement the Welsh Government’s own priorities and filling in the bureaucratic forms and action plans that make up the hoops we now have to jump through.
“If the Welsh Government intends that the cuts should only take effect from next April, that will give schools some breathing space, but the letter appears to encourage LAs to cut funding part way through this financial year.
“The Welsh Government cannot presume that valuable initiatives funded by the grant this year will continue out of school budgets in the next.
“The Welsh Government talks of three year budgets but this one has barely lasted six months.”
Commenting on this year’s GCSE results, NUT Wales Policy Officer, Owen Hathway, said:
“Students, teachers and parents should all be rightly commended for these impressive results. That the percentage of A*-A and A*-C grades have both gone up this year in comparison to 2013’s results is fantastic news and is a testament to the hard work, often well above and beyond the remits of a teacher, that goes on in schools right across Wales.
NUT Cymru, Wales’ largest union for qualified teachers, has sent its congratulations to the thousands of students across Wales celebrating their A Level results today.
NUT Cymru Policy Officer, Owen Hathway, said:
“Students and teachers across Wales should be proud of the results they have secured. Many months and years of hard work and dedication have gone into ensuring that these high standards have been achieved.
NUT Cymru have called for class sizes to be given more of a priority after the most recent publication of school census statistics showed yet another increase in the percentage of pupils taught in classes of 30 or more students.
Owen Hathway, NUT Cymru Policy Officer said:
“Since 2004 we have seen an almost year on year increase in the percentage of infant and junior pupils in classes over 30. This does have a major impact on standards and is one of the issues that are most frequently highlighted with us as a union.
The Wales TUC conference has voted in favour of NUT Cymru’s motion calling for action on teachers stress related sick leave. Over 50,000 teaching days were lost in each of the last two years as a result of workload pressures and the environment in which teachers work.
As part of the motion the National Union of Teachers, the largest union for qualified teachers in Wales, has called on the Welsh Government to work with local authorities and regional consortia to tackle the causes of stress related illnesses in school as well as examining what policies can be put in place to avoid such illnesses manifesting themselves in the first instance.
Wales Policy Officer, Owen Hathway, who spoke to the motion said:
NUT Cymru says a renewed commitment to the Foundation Phase is essential for its continued success. The Union, the largest union for qualified teachers in Wales, has welcomed the call for a ten-year commitment to give clear support that this is an ethos of teaching that is here to stay.
Strike action has not been taken lightly according to the largest teaching union in Wales. NUT Cymru says that the industrial action, which is due to take place on Wednesday, 26 March, has been the result of a failure by the Westminster Government to recognise the detrimental impact their policies are having on the sector.
Lobby the Governing Body rather than blame us say Unions as teachers strike at Maesydderwen School
Members of the NASUWT and NUT will be taking three days of strike action at Maesydderwen school to protest against the decision of the school governing body to adopt a new pay policy that accepts adverse changes to the pay entitlements of teachers proposed by the Secretary of State in England.
The new pay policy removes the obligation on the governing body to match a teacher's existing salary when they are appointed to the school.