With members of NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union taking further strike action at Llangors Church in Wales Primary School this week, Powys County Council have expressed their full support for the school’s governing body in their approach to ease financial pressures which includes making a teacher redundant.

Strike action will take place at the school on the 23, 24 and 25 April over concerns with management, governance, working conditions and redundancy. Strikes already took place on the 10, 17 and 18 April.

Speaking on the situation at Llangors Primary School, a spokesperson for Powys County Council told The Brecon & Radnor Express: “Schools across Wales continue to face significant pressures due to falling pupil numbers as well as financial pressures including pay, energy and other costs.

 “As most people will be aware from their own circumstances, the level of inflation experienced over the last two years, particularly on energy costs, has been far higher than experienced in the previous three decades. Unfortunately funding for the council and its schools has not kept pace with that inflation.

 “Although the council has agreed to include an additional £4.2m directly into Powys schools delegated budgets, we are unable to fully protect all schools from the funding pressures they face.

 “Governing bodies, like all council services, will need to consider how they manage their financial pressures within the resources available to them. This will mean that they face difficult decisions as to how they realign and set their budgets within the funding available to them.

 “Schools are funded via the agreed school funding formula, which will reflect the pupil numbers of each school and assumes up to 30 learners per class.

 “Governing bodies have a legal duty to set a balanced budget and failure to do so could result in the council taking appropriate action. However, the council has been proactively supporting schools across the county in their work to realign and set their budgets.

“The council fully supports the school’s governing body in their pro-active approach in dealing with these financial pressures and their work to realign and set a balanced budget and believes that the school has acted in a correct and appropriate manner with the council’s support.

 “The school’s share of the schools delegated budget is determined by the school funding formula and is based on pupil numbers. As the school’s pupil numbers has been below 150 pupils since 2018/19, the funding provided through the formula since then would be based on a five-class structure. Additional grant funding from Welsh Government during and immediately after the pandemic has allowed the school to keep a six-class structure in place for a period of time.

 “Council officers met with the trade union on the 8 March 2024 regarding Llangors Church in Wales Primary School and relevant officers will continue discussions with them on this matter as it progresses through formal processes.”

 In response to comments made by Powys County Council, NASUWT National Executive Member, Helen Johns said: “Yet again the local authority is leading the public to think we are in talks when the facts are the local authority is allowing the governors to plough ahead with the redundancy process and we have already put to the Director of Education that an independent investigation needs to be completed and findings reached before any redundancy process can possibly be progressed. Therefore the local authority's words regarding formal processes are quite disingenuous. 

“Why mention formal processes that as far as we know are not even happening when the time sensitive redundancy process is still allowed to continue, with a job about to be axed?  “Why not talk with us to negotiate on all the issues so we can call off strike action?  “The reiterated statements regarding the general budget situation are irrelevant to Llangors, where the problems were caused not through a funding shortfall but poor financial management and governance decisions. “Why is the local authority not meeting with us and why mention now a meeting that took place before we were even in dispute? “What would make a difference is negotiating meaningfully with us on the concerns and dispute resolution requirements we submitted to the local authority on 13 March.  “What relevance has a meeting predating the dispute to the present and future apart from serving to highlight the local authority's reluctance to engage with us on the issues presented?”