TEACHING assistants are among more than 100 Conwy education department staff whose jobs are under threat.
Teaching assistants, assisted learning staff and social inclusion personnel, have received a letter from the Chief Education Officer Dr Lowri Brown warning of potential redundancies.
Cllr Gareth Jones, leader of Conwy County Borough Council and portfolio holder for education and Cllr Julie Fallon, chairman of the education and skills scrutiny committee, did not know of the existence of the letter, with Cllr Fallon learning of it when a teaching assistant approached her with a copy while she was watching her son play football.
Cllr Jones said: “Most of the members would have known it was coming. I would stress everything is being done properly and by the book in terms of consultation. This is an operational matter, but it is still being assessed and no decisions have been made.
“In the past the authority has appointed a team of teaching assistants and allocated them to schools. It is costing the authority to maintain the team. Some schools have opted out of this, it is up to individual schools. Unfortunately some schools will be unable to afford teaching assistants.
”A report will be produced for the education scrutiny committee members who will be free to comment on it for the cabinet, it is for them to advise the Cabinet which will then be responsible for taking a decision.
“But we have to have a strong argument for maintaining the status quo. We are already looking at a deficit of £10 million.”
A spokesperson for Conwy Council said: “Over the past year, the local authority has been reviewing the provision of teaching assistants in schools. Whilst a number of schools have entered into the purchasing arrangement with the Authority, others have opted not to spend their school budgets in this way. As a result, it is no longer viable for the authority to continue to offer/deliver this central service.
“Schools have therefore been notified that from 1 April 2018 the authority will not be providing an option for schools to ‘purchase’ the Teaching Assistant support currently being provided via the existing service level agreements.
“Last term, Conwy education service wrote to teaching assistants to let them know that the arrangements were being reviewed. A further letter has been sent to the teaching assistants this week. The authority is also consulting with the trade unions in relation to impact on affected staff.
“We employ 66 permanent members of staff who, in the main, will transfer automatically to individual schools – we will continue to work with the schools to ensure this.
“There are also a further 58 teaching assistant staff employed on a fixed term or temporary basis. We will be working to minimise the impact on their employment and the support they provide.”