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Conwy Council considering two school mergers to save £86K

PLANS to amalgamate two Mochdre primary schools will save a council more than £86k – but there are fears over teacher and teaching assistant job losses.

At a Conwy Council education and skills overview and scrutiny committee, councillors voted in favour of progressing the amalgamation of Ysgol Babanod Mochdre and Ysgol Cystennin.

According to the report, Ysgol Babanod Mochdre’s budget for 2023/24 is £283,534 and Ysgol Cystennin’s is £328,566, resulting in a combined budget of £612,100.

But by amalgamating the two schools across two sites, the council believe they can bring costs down to £525,452, making a saving of £86,648.

Despite the damage done to education by Covid, Conwy Council slashed school budgets by 5% this year, resulting in redundancies and at least one headmaster applying for a council loan.

Speaking at the committee meeting, Cllr Anne McCaffrey asked how the amalgamation might affect staffing levels at the school.

Council officer John Davies replied: “As regards to the staffing implications, that will be a decision for the school and the governing body.

“We will be working with them closely with regards to any sort of transitional funding methodology, but the overall decision as regards as to how many staff there will need, how many teaching assistants, etc., will be the school’s governing bodies’ decision.”

Cllr McCaffrey, though, wasn’t satisfied.

She said: “If we’re intending to take eighty grand out of these two schools combined, inevitably there is going to be implications on staffing levels and staffing as the major cost.”

Cllr McCaffrey then asked for the report to return in January with details of staffing levels.

“I’d like when you come back to us in January that we actually have those plans in place so we understand what reductions, if any, there are because I don’t think we should be reducing the staff head count here.”

She added: “So I am concerned about staffing levels at this school going forward if they amalgamate.”

But Cllr Paul Luckock wanted to see more schools amalgamate.

“I’m fully supportive of the amalgamation, and I look forward to further school amalgamations coming before the council over the next couple of years,” he said.

The chamber heard that a public consultation took place in the summer, ending in August.

The committee voted unanimously in favour of the report, which will be updated and returned for consideration in January, but the plans must first be approved by cabinet.