Monmouthshire schools are set to have their budgets cut by nearly a million pounds from April if councillors approve the draft budget plans set out by the Labour-led administration.
The Council’s Conservative Group, who oppose the school cuts, have calculated how the cuts will impact each school in the county using the Council’s own school funding formula.
This includes a cut of £109,000 to the new King Henry VIII 3-19 School (pictured above) and cuts to all local primary schools including £15,000 for Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni (pictured right) and around £13,000 for Llanfoist Fawr, Our Lady and St Michael’s and Gilwern primary schools. Cross Ash, Goytre Fawr and Llantilio Pertholey primaries will each see cuts of around £12,000 while Cantref Primary will see its budget reduced by around £14,500.
Senior Labour councillors have conceded that the funding cuts will inevitably result in staff redundancies and will impact the most vulnerable pupils the most. It is expected that one to one provision for pupils with learning difficulties will be a key area for cuts.
As well as taking nearly a million pounds out of school budgets, the administration is proposing doubling school breakfast club charges, ending free music lessons by scrapping the subsidy for Gwent Music and cutting funding for the county’s only outdoor education centre in Gilwern.
Leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr Richard John said, “It is obvious that Monmouthshire schools will not be able to provide the same quality of education and support if Labour councillors press ahead and take nearly a million pounds out of school budgets.
“They have admitted that cuts in school funding would impact the most vulnerable pupils most as schools would end up making teaching assistants, who provide one to one support, redundant.
“It is sobering seeing the impact these cuts will have on each individual school in the county and knowing there is very little they can cut other than their headcount.
“These cuts will put even more pressure on teachers and school staff at a time when teacher recruitment and retention are so challenging.
“Poor financial oversight at the council over the past two years has made the need for cuts worse, further evidenced by the resignation of one of the two part-time cabinet members for finance in the middle of the budget consultation.
“The council has run a massive in-year overspend for two years running in contrast to neighbouring councils like Torfaen who have managed their finances better and are on course to deliver a surplus at the end of the financial year.
“The UK Government has announced additional funding for councils in England, which triggered a £25million consequential for Wales, but we haven’t seen any lobbying from the council that this money should be passed on to local authorities and used to plug the gap in school budgets.
“I think residents will be appalled to see what Labour councillors are proposing for our local schools and I would urge everyone to contact their local councillor with their views and complete the online budget questionnaire.
“We all know that money is tight but the burden of budget cuts should not fall on the shoulders of the most vulnerable children in our county.”
The council’s consultation on the 24-25 budget ends on 15th February and can be accessed here: https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/budget-2024-2025/