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Aberconwy MS slams council and Welsh Government over education cuts

ABERCONWY MS Janet Finch-Saunders has criticised Conwy County Council for making education cuts and blamed the Welsh Government for asking the cash-strapped authority to fund an education quango.

Conwy controversially slashed school budgets by 5% whilst increasing council tax by nearly 10% earlier this year.

Since then a number of primary schools have been forced to make redundancies and request loans to cover running costs.

Meanwhile, some non-mandatory after-school clubs in the county are now being cancelled whilst non-statutory home-to-school transport is also being reviewed across Conwy.

Aberconwy MS Janet Finch-Saunders has criticised Conwy’s cuts as well as Welsh Government.

The MS said Welsh Government is to blame for Conwy having to make payments to GWE, an educational advisory body, rather than investing the funds in its own education system.

But the MS said headteachers were struggling to make ends meet.

“I’d like to think I know how a council should perform. As far as the cuts to education are concerned in Conwy, the council is still paying – because the Welsh Government tell them to – GWE,” she said.

“My point where GWE is concerned, nobody has tested GWE for whether it is value for money or not. But it does cost several hundred thousand pounds (a year). I would prefer to see that money going directly to the education system itself. Local authorities pay that sum.

“They (GWE) put courses on for teachers who have to attend, but then the headteachers have to get another supply teacher in, and sometimes when they come back from these conferences with things that they’ve been trained in, it’s not how that particular school works.

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“I’m told by many teachers and headteachers I talk to that the council has signed up to the dictat for that, yet they can’t afford to properly fund schools in Conwy.

“Teachers are going around stressed for the summer holidays simply because they don’t know how they are going to make ends meet in September.

“The cost of spend per pupil is lower than England anyway. But headteachers themselves can’t actually run schools without having to sack (make redundant) teachers and teaching assistants. But there’s something going badly wrong with that local authority (Conwy).

“They raised the council tax, the highest in Wales, yet they are still cutting the funding for education.”

She added: “The pupils and teachers will suffer. The headteachers are affected by these cuts in funding. It puts terrible pressure on them. Certainly a large number of teachers and head teachers are affected by the cuts in the funding.”

On GWE’s website, the organisation says, ‘Proudly Welsh and internationally informed, we will support our schools to become successful and confident learning organisations. We will collaborate to provide learners with the climate and education they deserve so that they become capable and resilient individuals who realise their full potential.”

Conwy County Council and GWE were contacted for a comment.. The Welsh Government said they did not wish to comment.