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SCHOOL: Albert Primary School broke up for the summer break last week (8431343)

SCHOOL: Albert Primary School broke up for the summer break last week (8431343)

First published in News

A HEAD teacher has hit out at 'unfair' funding which will result in staff being made redundant at his school this year.

Up to three teaching assistants and a specialist sports coach on an external contract are set to be made redundant from Albert Primary School.

Governors from the school sent a letter to parents the day before the summer break saying that the school was addressing a “budgetary deficit” this financial year and the only way they could manage this was by reducing staff costs.

Head teacher, Huw Jones, said the school had to cut 65 hours worth of staff costs per week, which amounted to two full-time or three part-time teaching assistants, as well as the external contract with Superstars. He has met with the Minister for Education Huw Lewis twice this year to highlight the issue of inequality in funds.

"The fundamental problem is that the funding formula from the Indicative Budget Allocation hasn't been reviewed for many years," he said.

"All 22 local authorities also have different ways of working out their education budget.

"You have got inequality of funding in Wales between local authorities."

In a letter to parents, which was signed by Canon Roger Williams, the Chair of Governors, and Heather Brown, the Vice Chair of Governors, it said: “It has been a very difficult time for all staff concerned over the last few months and we would like to thank them for their continued professionalism and patience.

“We must stress that we endeavoured to address the situation without it having too much of a detrimental effect on school life and standards.”

One concerned parent contacted the Penarth Times to say: “We forever feel like we are fundraising for the school and we receive a letter to say how they are going to make staff redundant."

Another parent defended the school and the work of the teaching staff, saying their children had "fantastic opportunities" during their time there and "they would not have had such a range of experiences in any other school".

Huw Jones, the head teacher of the school, said there was an inequality of funding in local authorities across Wales and that in "real terms" funding had gone down. He added that the Indicative Budget Allocation funding formulas for schools hadn't been reviewed in many years and he had addressed the Minister for Education with his concerns.

"The fundamental education funding in Wales is flawed. If we didn't have a surplus of £32,000 last year there would have been greater cuts," he said.

The Governing Body said that there were two main reasons behind the budgetary deficit that the school was currently facing.

“Firstly, the Vale of Glamorgan Council Indicative Budget Allocation per Capita is currently the lowest in Wales which results in less money being allocated per pupil than schools in neighbouring authorities. The average difference between the Vale and its Consortium partners two years ago was approximately £400 less per pupil.

“Secondly, the difference between the funding between Wales and England continues to widen.”

Mr Jones has met with the Minister for Education Huw Lewis twice this year, “highlighting the issues and stating the inequality in funds”, and that his response was that “it is a local authority issue regarding education funding”.

The school’s governors added: “We do not feel the blame can be solely apportioned on the Vale, ultimately it is the Welsh Government who decide how much is allocated to each Local Authority and this is based on a formula that was drawn up several years ago which is proving to be unfair to pupils at Albert and all other schools in the Vale.”

Councillor Neil Moore, the leader of the Vale Council, said that it was the individual school’s responsibility to decide how they spend their money and operate within the funding available to them.

“The Vale of Glamorgan Council has funded education above the required budget as set by Welsh Government, known as the Indicator Based Assessment, for the last two years,” he said.

“The Indicator Based Assessment is the guideline amount that Welsh Government suggests the council should be spending on education in the Vale of Glamorgan.

“All schools are responsible for reviewing their funding each year and for setting a balanced budget. This process is routine and takes places in school across the Vale and throughout Wales.”

He added: “As with all authorities in Wales, funding is allocated to schools across the Vale of Glamorgan using a funding formula. This formula is kept under review by the Schools Budget Forum; of which the head teacher of Albert Primary School is a member, to ensure an equitable distribution of funding across all schools. The council provides financial management advice and support to schools to ensure they are able to set a balanced budget each year.”

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