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Cardiff Education Politics South Wales

Schools across Cardiff spent £20m on agency staff last year

SCHOOLS across Cardiff spent a combined £20m on agency staff last year, according to council data.

The data, obtained via a freedom of information request to Cardiff Council, shows five schools spent more than half a million pounds on agency staff in the 2023-24 financial year.

Whitchurch High School spent the most on agency staff during this period, paying out £1.1m. This was followed by Llanishen High School, which spent £730,000, and Ty Gwyn School for special education, which spent £699,000.

The amount spent on agency staff by schools includes non-teaching staff.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “The total amount spent reflects the current labour market and the wage rises seen across the sector following the Welsh Government’s latest pay settlement.

“Schools will contract temporary agency staff for a variety of reasons. These can include covering short-term absences, and meeting demand temporarily while the recruitment process to employ a permanent member of staff is conducted.

“Schools also employ agency staff to temporarily cover non-teaching roles.

“Over several months Cardiff Council officers have been working closely with schools to provide support and advice during their budget setting for the coming year.

“In its 2024-25 budget, Cardiff Council agreed to give schools a 4.3% uplift of £12.8m a year to help deal with rising costs matching Welsh Government’s funding increase to the council and removing any budget requirement for efficiency savings.”

The schools with the highest level of spending on agency staff for the 2023-24 financial year are as follows:

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  • Whitchurch High School – £1.1m
  • Llanishen High School – £730,000
  • Ty Gwyn School – £699,000
  • Woodlands High School – £590,000
  • Cardiff West Community High School – £571,000
  • Willows High School – £467,000
  • Cantonian High School – £448,000
  • Oakfield Primary School – £437,000
  • Whitchurch Primary School – £394,000
  • Eastern High School – £383,000
  • Radyr Comprehensive – £382,000
  • The Hollies School – £369,000

Information from Cardiff Council also shows the three companies the local authority spent the most on school agency staff with in 2023-24 were New Directions (£2.9m), Teaching Personnel Ltd (£2.7m) and Apollo Teaching Services Ltd (£1m).

Schools across the country, just like local authorities, have been struggling financially over the last year and Cardiff is no different.

One special needs school, 35 primary schools and two secondary schools in the city set deficit budgets for 2023-24. Some other schools were able to set balanced budgets only through the one-off use of their reserves.