THE Isle of Wight has been named the third worst local authority for secondary school staff cuts.

Figures compiled by the National Education Union (NEU) and published by Schools Week show that between 2014 and 2017 the Isle of Wight lost an average of 16.6 members of staff, including teachers and teaching assistants, per secondary school.

Only Middlesbrough and Reading lost more.

Isle of Wight Labour Party parliamentary spokesperson, Julian Critchley, said: "Obviously these figures are a cause for concern. The position is complicated by the fact the government's stealth privatisation of the schools system to multi academy trusts like AET, which runs Sandown Bay and Ryde Academies, removes accountability to local communities.

"These cuts are the result of decisions taken by private companies like AET, and executives like Julian Drinkall, its chief executive, who last month claimed Islanders were 'nimbys' for protesting at AET's plans to shut Sandown Bay Academy.

"I support the Isle of Wight Council in its plan to take back control of Sandown Bay and reopen it as a local authority school. Perhaps, in light of these figures, they can work on reclaiming the rest of our schools and guarantee staffing levels will be restored."

Nationally, the NEU figures show there were 15,065 fewer secondary school staff in 2017 than in 2014, while pupil numbers have increased by almost 4,500.

At primary level, there were 3,975 more teachers. But there were 166,555 more pupils — equating to one new teacher for every 41 new pupils.

ATL general secretary Geoff Barton said class sizes were growing and staff were less able to give children individual support.