Conwy parents protest over school cuts warning

Parents and pupils hold protest over planned education funding cuts in Conwy county
Image caption Parents and pupils held a rally next to Conwy's new headquarters in Colwyn Bay

Hundreds of parents and pupils have demonstrated over concerns for school funding in Conwy county.

It follows a letter from headteachers at seven secondary schools in the authority, warning that it was "make or break time" due to budget cuts.

The heads warned that some of the schools faced losing up to £200,000, larger class sizes and staff cuts.

The council said it shared parents' concerns - as it faced making £15.7m in savings.

On Thursday, the council agreed a budget that will see education funding cut by about 3.2%, while council tax bills increase by 9.6%.

The rally on Saturday took place next to the council's new multi-million pound headquarters in Colwyn Bay.

Parents said the situation in the county had reached a "breaking point" with heads forced to account for "every penny".

John Owen, from National Education Union Cymru, added: "This will undoubtedly lead to fewer teachers, we are seeing this already - because temporary contracts aren't being renewed and staff who retire aren't being replaced.

Image caption Conwy has agreed education cuts of about 3.2% in the coming year

It follows the letter signed by secondary school heads in Conwy, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Old Colwyn, Abergele and Llanrwst.

They highlighted a series of concerns, including:

  • School buildings falling into disrepair
  • Reduction in support for pupils with additional learning needs
  • Significant challenge to develop Welsh medium education
Image caption A copy of the letter sent by Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy in Llanrwst

Addressing the demonstration, Conwy council's cabinet member for education Garffild Lloyd Lewis said he understood their concerns, but the authority was in a difficult situation.

"We've tried to protect education - that cut was expected to be 4% - it's down now to about 3.2%," he told BBC Wales.

"But that's not hiding the fact that it is going to be very, very tough, very difficult for schools.

"I well know the impact that this will have, so I'm really sorry about that, but it's something we had to do, and a really tough decision."

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