By Elizabeth Williams, Senior Professional Officer (Wales)
A recent feature on BBC Wales, "Teaching assistant cuts in Wales 'heartbreaking' for pupils", has highlighted the impact that cuts to support staff numbers is having in Wales.
According to the article, "there are almost 1,400 fewer support staff working in Welsh primary schools compared with four years ago.
"Data from the annual school census shows there has been a 7.5% cut to primary school support staff from 18,655 in 2014-15 to 17,261 in 2018-19.
"That includes the loss of more than 1,000 standard teaching assistants (TAs) and 300 special needs support staff, although there was an increase in the number of higher level teaching assistants from 1,128 to 1,435."
Jane Jenkins, head of Moorland primary in Cardiff, has had to axe three out of 30 such posts with budget cuts.
She told BBC Wales Live that losing teaching assistants meant less one-to-one support for pupils for things like speech and language help:.
"This generation of children has been let down by the system.
"It's absolutely heartbreaking to think the interventions and support we were giving in the school 12 months ago, we're no longer able to deliver."
"The adult to pupil ratio in her reception class has increased from 1:10 to 1:12, and she fears she will have to make further staff cuts."
A Welsh Government spokesperson told the BBC:
"In July this year we published the Professional Standards for Assisting Teaching to support all teaching assistants with their development and progression.
"We are also delivering the biggest ever investment of £24 million in teachers' professional learning and a proposed additional inset day to give staff more time for training.
"Teaching assistants, head teachers, regional consortia and other key partners tested and contributed to the standards, which reflect the importance of collaboration for a highly-skilled, well-supported teaching community."
Voice is saddened by the swathe of compulsory redundancies of support staff that have taken place in schools across Wales over the past few years.
We wholeheartedly agree that a reduction in support staff will lead to a demise in standards.
This will not be compensated by the Welsh Government’s plan to provide an additional £24 million towards CPD for the education workforce over the next 18 months.
While we welcome the professional standards and CPD funding – which will contribute to better quality and more consistent training across the regions – it will never replace the experienced and dedicated staff lost to the classroom.
We will continue to support members in schools and other education and early years settings across Wales.