Unconfirmed reports have emerged that large pay-offs – allegedly made by the Vale of Glamorgan Council to staff leaving Penarth’s brand-new Ysgol-y-Deri special school – may have been partially behind the difficulties the Wales Auditor has had in signing-off the council’s 2014/15 accounts.
Ysgol y Deri is part of the new £49,000,000 “Penarth Learning Community” on Sully Road and was established from the merger of three former local schools – Maes Dyfan, Ysgol Erw’r Delyn and Ashgrove School, Penarth – all of which dealt with pupils with special needs. There are 240 pupils on the roll.
The school governors’ report says that the total staff salary bill for the 230 staff at the school in the year 2014/15 amounted to £6,100,008.
Councillors have been told that, across the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan, a total of 30 school staff had been made redundant – but the school with the most redundancies was the new Ysgol-y-Deri , where – since April this year – no fewer than 12 staff have departed.
In answer to a question from Cllr Chris Franks (Plaid Dinas Powys) , Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) – ‘cabinet’ member for education said there has been “a decrease in demand for residential placements at Ysgol Y Deri which has led to 12 redundancies in the current financial year”. Cllr Burnett said these redundancies were “within the residential unit and not the school itself” , and would not affect staffing ratios in the classroom.
Ysgol-y-Deri has also has a particularly high incidence of staff sickness with – at any one time – up to 20% of the 230 staff at the school claiming “sickies”. (See PDN http://tinyurl.com/h2dtvst)
A PDN source says there are claims that some staff had been paid substantial sums of money to leave without making a fuss about what is alleged to be a “bullying environment” at the school. Earlier this year the school governors – who had already come under criticism from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales – were quoted as saying work would be “starting immediately” to establish “a new and more effective way of working”.
In November 2015 John Golding – acting on behalf of the Wales Auditor General – had written to the Vale of Glamorgan Council saying that “I have not yet issued a certificate confirming that the audit of the accounts has been completed. This is due to a number of issues that have been brought to our attention by electors”.