There is growing concern among Ceredigion councillors that teaching staff are being targeted for job cuts but that the axe won't fall on any of the council's backroom staff. And that means the same amount of office staff will be supporting fewer teachers in classes.

And the councillors have also raised concerns with the Cambrian News that Elen James, the council's chief education officer, is leaving much of the heavy lifting to another senior official, Clive Williams, the corporate lead officer for schools.

"He's the hatchet man on this," a senior council source told this newspaper. "She doesn't want to be seen getting her hands dirty."

Council sources have come forward to say that teaching staff will bear the brunt of budget cuts, not office support staff.

"The most important thing is to keep teachers in the class," one said. "The way things are now, no office staff are being let go. They'll all work from home and will be responsible for fewer teachers. It doesn't make any sense.

"It's the same with all of the staff cuts. Frontline workers take the hit, the office staff are safe."

Ms James sent a letter out to schools, a copy of which has been obtained by the Cambrian News, with a draft text that head teachers should use seeking redundancies.

"By choosing to share this communication with your team you are not committing to supporting any expressions of interest however it does demonstrate that there is a will to mitigate any compulsory steps and may also generate opportunities previously unconsidered which may be helpful in shaping your existing plans to respond to these budgetary constraints," she writes.

The draft text the head teachers are asked to send to teachers notes: "As you will be aware from the national media, considerable budgetary pressures are currently being placed upon Education and unfortunately Ceredigion County Council are no exception to this," and it then asks for expressions of interest in voluntary redundancies.

Fearing retribution for breaking with party lines and speaking directly to the Cambrian News, several councillors asked for and have been granted anonymity by this newspaper. "By even speaking to Cambrian News, Eifion [Evans] will have a s*** fit," one said.

"Elen [James] was promoted to her big role a year ago, yet it's Clive [Williams] who is going to do the dirty work," one councillor said.

Ceredigion County Council has been asked to comment.