Deal struck over school redundancies

Nick Toyne
Nick Toyne
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A deal has been struck between school bosses and trade union leaders to prevent compulsory redundancies at a Blackpool school.

The Gazette revealed earlier this year how teaching assistant jobs at Devonshire Primary Academy in Devonshire Road were under threat.

The school wanted to reduce the number of hours worked by teaching assistants, creating a standardised day.

Proposals showed the total weekly hours worked would be reduced from 1,102 to 915, the equivilent of six full time staff.

The changes would have saved the school a minimum of £74,160.

A consultation period into the changes ended this week.

And today school and union leaders came together to reveal a deal had been struck.

Headteacher Nick Toyne and Dave Dickinson of trade union Unison, which represents the support staff, released a joint statement.

They said: “The consultation period for the Support Staff review has now drawn to a close.

“Working closely together; the School, Unison and the Local Authority have put in a huge amount of effort to avoid compulsory redundancies, whilst at the same time delivering a staffing model that suits the needs of the pupils.

“This solution has been reached through co-operation, compromise and flexibility of all parties and we believe that this will enable us to move forward positively for the benefit of the pupils at the school.

“It is accepted and understood that any uncertainty with regards to job security is difficult for everyone but we believe that the new structure will future proof support in school during these challenging times for education, both locally and nationally.”

No details of the plan have been released and the school would not confirm whether any staff had accepted voluntary redundancy.

One of the aims of the reorganisation was to ensure classroom support staff were available when needed.

Under the previous arrangements many were working part time hours, leading to a lack of cover at some times in the day.

When the consultation at Devonshire was announced concerns were raised over the impact of smaller budgets on schools across the resort.

St Nicholas Primary School headteacher, Andy Mellor, a leading figure in the National Union of Headteachers described the issues at Devonshire as ‘the tip of the iceberg’.

He said he had been asked to attend a number of restructure meetings at schools.