Pupils at one of Ceredigion’s largest primary school are preparing for an academic downturn following the Welsh government’s decision to axe one teacher and two teaching assistants.

Parents and governors at Ysgol Gynradd Aberporth have fought tirelessly to retain the current staffing levels, but on May 24 they were told that one of the Key Stage 2 teachers is being made redundant while the teaching assistants are being reduced by two.

This means that from September, the school will be given a children teacher ratio of 25.14. This, compared to other schools in the county, is seen as 'extremely high'. 

Ysgol Gynradd Penparc currently has a children teacher ratio of 18.6 and Ysgol Ty Llew Jones a ratio of 19.1.

The 92 Aberporth children who are currently in Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 will no longer be taught in four individual classes, but will be combined into three groups.

“And the most concerning thing is that we’re not going to find out how those classes are going to be mixed until July 13, which doesn’t give parents time to consider how this is going to affect their children’s future education,” said concerned parent, Isabel Hope.

“Adapting to new teachers and new classroom structures can be difficult for all children, particularly the more vulnerable, and we’re concerned that our children’s education is going to suffer.

“If they’re splitting four academic years into three groups, there are going to be some age differences and the problem will be exacerbated further for children with additional needs.”

Ysgol Gynradd Aberporth is one of the largest schools in Ceredigion with 176 pupils currently on its register and an additional 22 children in its Canolfan y Don unit which is for children with severe learning needs.

The cuts are being made as a result of an increase in staff salaries, a rise in the school’s running costs and a decrease in the money allocated from the Welsh government and Ceredigion County Council.

However parents and governors have been requesting that urgent repair works be carried out to the sub-standard 1950s building for many years, which would have resulted in sufficient energy savings to prevent the staffing losses.

Tivyside Advertiser: Ysgol Gynradd AberporthYsgol Gynradd Aberporth (Image: Isabel Hope)

“A substantial amount of work is going to be carried out to the school building over the next few months to make it more energy efficient,” continued Isabel Hope.

“But we’ve been asking for these issues to be addressed for years. They’re only being dealt with now due to having to combine KS2 into three classes, but how much longer would Ceredigion have ignored it?

"The windows are still single glazing, there’s lots of asbestos in the school, and in the last academic year alone the oil cost £27,000 because of the malfunctioning boiler and the heating system being left on consistently.

“It’s our understanding that Ceredigion County Council owns the building so surely they alone should be held responsible for the costs?  It's wrong that they're being deduced from the school finances.”

The parents are now desperately looking into ways of securing the costs of employing an additional teacher, which will be between £41,000 and £60,000.

“Our main aim is that our children continue to get the education they deserve,” added Ms Hope.

Meanwhile head governor Sue Lewis has expressed her disappointment at the decision to cut teacher numbers.

“As governors, we’re extremely aggrieved,” she said.

“This has been an incredibly stressful time for everyone concerned and we’ve done everything possible to avoid losing a teacher and have argued our case as strongly as we could.

“We’re particularly concerned because Aberporth is a Flying Start area where lots of children are living below the poverty line and need as much educational support as they can get.

"It’s also one of the biggest schools in the area so it’s with huge reluctance that we have to accept these decisions.”