A COUNCIL has stumped up almost £70,000 to protect jobs at a cash-strapped secondary school.

Cllr Gareth Thomas, Gwynedd’s cabinet member for education, took the decision to hand over the additional funding for 2018/19 in order to plug the financial black hole at Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn.

The school  is currently £49,034 in the red which has been largely blamed on a significant fall in pupil numbers over the years –  even falling below projected forecasts,  leading to a drop in income as a result.

A meeting of the school finance forum heard that the school had already taken “great steps” to keep the balance of the staff and the community’s credibility, having reduced its deficit from a high water mark of £116,177 in March 2017.

But concerns that the need for achieve even more savings would lead to job losses has seen the authority step in with a one-off contribution to help balance the books.

The decision notice, authorised by Cllr Thomas, notes: “I have decided to provide a one-off additional financial contribution of £67,500 that equates avoiding having to dismiss the equivalent of one and a half experienced teachers for a year, subject to the school confirming that they will plan to set a balanced budget for the forthcoming years.

“I am providing a sum higher than the school’s published deficit on 31 March 2018 because the school has unavoidable financial commitments to the value of £30,000.”

At the time of the last Estyn inspection in January, there were 268 pupils on roll in comparison with 298 at the time of the last inspection in 2012 – with 19% coming from homes where Welsh is the main language.

Inspectors then, noted: “Pupil numbers have decreased year-on-year over the last ten years, and this has led to significant cuts in funding and staffing.”

However, they were also complimentary regarding the standards of teaching, adding: “Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn is an extremely caring and inclusive community.

“The headteacher and all staff embrace a culture of high expectations and respect towards others. Very effective leadership has led to excellent standards of wellbeing and an exceptional level of care and support for pupils.

“It has also led to robust standards over time and good quality teaching.”

Welcoming the decision, local councillor Mike Stevens, said: “This is most welcome news.

“The headteacher and her staff have worked very hard over the past year to balance things and with the potential extra pupil intake in the future it would be counter-productive to have to lose any staff because of this year’s anomaly.”

Cllr Anne Lloyd Jones echoed her support while fellow local member, Dewi Owen, added: “Very good news for Ysgol Tywyn. “Looking for and working to make cuts to the school budget has been a concern for some time.”