Dire schools budget triggers strike vote


A severe budget cut at Newport’s Caerleon Comprehensive school will seriously undermine the quality of students’ education, UNISON has warned. Teaching assistants have been threatened with redundancy and the trade union has initiated a ballot for strike action. The result is expected by the end of the month.

The school faces a budget reduction of more than £500,000 including reducing the £165,000 additional learning needs budget. Earlier this year, school governors complained to Newport City Council that the budget cuts were not sustainable and had forced a dramatic reduction in teaching numbers. UNISON has been advised savings have been made in every sector of the school and teaching assistant positions are the “only area left to cut”.

Peter Short, UNISON organiser said,

“These cuts are horrendous and there is no way the school will be able to deliver a decent standard of education. Schools cannot survive without teaching assistants; they support Special Educational Needs children and those underperforming, help teachers cope with big classes, release teachers for preparation time and help those with English as an additional language. Despite this, they suffer low wages and are only paid during term times. Now they face being sacked because the school hasn’t got enough money.

“Caerleon school teachers have told us they are very concerned about workloads if support staff go. Running a school in this way doesn’t give kids the best start in life they need. We know that Welsh councils are under intolerable pressure because of brutal UK Conservative government spending cuts. However, this school is in financial crisis and the council must intervene and inject significant money.”