ASCL Cymru leader Eithne Hughes has warned of a potential funding crisis for schools in several areas of Wales as a result of decisions by major local authorities to not fully fund their share of the nationally-agreed pay increase for teachers.
The Welsh Government agreed an across the board 1.75% pay rise for teachers in Wales in September 2021, at the same time announcing £6.4 million of additional funding to local authorities as a grant to pay for 0.75% of the increase. Councils are required to fund the remaining 1% of the rise from within their existing budgets.
However, ASCL made a freedom of information request to all 22 local authorities in Wales and is now able to reveal the postcode lottery that will directly impact schools in Flintshire, Wrexham, Vale of Glamorgan and Conwy, where the respective local authorities have not fully funded the pay increase.
Of the four, Conwy has not added any funding to the Welsh government grant and Flintshire has passed on the grant and provided an additional 0.5% (bringing the funding increase to 1.25%). Wrexham and Vale of Glamorgan have used the grant to top up their original budget allocations, bringing the increase to 1% and 1.5% respectively.
Schools in the four local authority areas, all of which represent populations in excess of 100,000 people, will now be forced to use their own budgets to top up the local authority allocations and fund the full pay increase to their staff.
Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, said: “The initial pay award announced by the Welsh government did little to help pay in education recover after many years of below inflation increases, but it was at least something to recognise the unstinting professionalism and work ethic of teachers across Wales during the pandemic.
“To now find that four of the biggest local authorities in Wales have failed to deliver on their share of the increase is a double-whammy for schools in those areas, who are being forced to dig into their already tight budgets in order to ensure their staff receive the pay rise they have been promised.
“This is nothing short of scandalous and demonstrates the in-built inequalities of a pay system that has very little logic to it and allows some local authorities to wilfully renege on their commitment to the teaching profession.”
In particular, Mrs Hughes condemned the decision by Conwy to allocate no funding at all to teacher pay increases. The county has 61 schools – 53 primary, seven secondary with sixth forms and one special school.
“Quite how councillors in Conwy can live with themselves is beyond me, having unenviably placed their county as the only one in Wales to flagrantly ignore the nationally-agreed pay increase.
“Councillors in Flintshire, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham have at least acknowledged their responsibilities but fallen well short of the funding support needed and passed the buck, literally, to schools that are already under immense budgetary pressures as a result of the pandemic.
“The costs of bringing in support staff to cover for the teachers absent from the classroom due to Covid are huge and having to top up pay for their teachers will pile on further unwanted and unnecessary pressure.
“Schools have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to maintain education for our learners and, quite frankly, deserve better from the very people who are there to support them.
“The existing teacher pay system in Wales will continue to fail schools through the wilfully unfair decisions of a minority of those in power at local authority level. The only way this can be avoided in future is for the Welsh government to draw a line under this ridiculous funding system and fully fund pay rises for teachers in future.”