A huge shortage of catering staff is hitting schools with just one board trying to fill vacancies in 50 schools.
Bridgend’s council said catering staff have left during the pandemic and are urgently trying to recruit positions, including cooks and kitchen assistants.
Earlier this month, the traditional school Christmas lunch has been canceled in the area with the local authority saying there was not enough staff to operate it.
Read more: What we know about the Welsh government plans to offer free school meals and childcare for two-year-olds and when this will happen
The warning comes as a Unison Cymru union has warned of an exodus of support staff for pay in Wales.
Over 45% of teacher assistants, caretakers, housekeepers and other school support staff in Wales are actively seeking better paying jobs due to the rising cost of living and persistent low wages in education, according to a survey published by the union.
School principals also said they were facing a shortage of substitute teachers this term.
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A spokesperson for Bridgend City Council said schools in the area “are urgently looking to recruit new staff who can join their catering teams and help prepare and serve meals for the children.”
Councilor Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, added: âWe have seen a huge increase in the number of vacancies since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. He said kitchen assistant jobs were paid Â£ 9.50 an hour, hours could be flexible and training was available.
Responses to the Unison survey paint a grim picture of school support workers saying they live without heat or hot water because of broken boilers they can’t afford to fix, worrying about how to pay for dental care, relying on their children for cash, or going to food banks.
An overwhelming majority (98%) told Unison that their schoolwork pay rate was not enough for them to keep up with the rising prices. A total of 38% say they only earn between Â£ 1,000 and Â£ 1,199 per month, while 32% earn less than Â£ 1,000 per month.
Over 76% are worried about paying their utility and municipal tax bills and 52% are worried about paying their mortgage or rent.
Because money is so tight, over 27% said they had resorted to a second or even a third job to make ends meet, while 37% said they had to cut spending and 18% borrowed money. money to their friends and family.
Rosie Lewis, Head of School Support Staff at Unison Cymru / Wales, said: âSchool support staff are a dedicated workforce who go the extra mile every day and work incredibly hard. Schools could not function without them. But many have reached a point where they just can’t afford to stay in the job they love.
âSchools risk an exodus of support staff as people reluctantly seek better paying jobs. This is a terrible state of affairs given the tireless work of support staff throughout the pandemic to ensure that schools remain open and that free school meals are always provided.
âBut the rising cost of bills, food and travel means that many stars in our schools are at risk of serious debt or losing their homes. They just don’t earn enough for the amazing work they do. The government needs to release additional funds to enable schools to keep the support staff they so depend on by paying them properly.
Bridgend’s board said her vacancies, ranging from cooks to general kitchen assistants, are available with flexible working hours and a staff pension plan. The salary is Â£ 9.50 an hour for a general kitchen assistant.
Bridgend schools complete with catering jobs
Archdeacon John Lewis
Primary Cefn Cribwr
Cefn Glas Infants
Ffaldau nursery (Pontycymmer)
Primary school in Ffaldau
Maes An Haul Primary
Primary Mynydd Cynnfig
Ogmore Vale Primary
Primary St Mary’s RC
St Mary’s and St Patrick’s RC
St Roberts RC Primary
Tondu (Persondy site)
West Park Primary
YGG Bro Ogwr
YGG Calon Y Cymoedd
YGG Cynwyd Sant
Ysgol Y Ferch O’r SgÃªr
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