School looking for thousands of pounds of savings in job restructure

A Blackpool school is looking to save more than £74,000 through staff cuts The Gazette has learned.

Tuesday, 4th April 2017, 1:59 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:28 pm
Devonshire Primary Academy
Devonshire Primary Academy

It was revealed on Saturday that Devonshire Primary Academy was looking to restructure it’s team of teaching assistants.

A business plan, seen by The Gazette, appears to show the school is considering a reduction of more than 180 hours a week worked, the equivalent of more than six full time jobs.

In the proposals details are given of how the current and proposed support structure would operate.

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Currently 1,102 hours are worked by teaching assistants every week.

That would be reduced to 915, a cut of 187 hours, the equivalent of 6.2 full time staff.

There are currently 47 teaching assistants at the school working a range of hours.

The report states the school would save a minimum of £74,160 as a result of the changes but acknowledges the morale of support staff would be affected during the ‘change period’.

The positives and negatives of the restructure are weighed up, with a 30-hour standard week balanced against the cost of redundancy packages.

On a separate page it is suggested £105,000 would be needed for redundancy payments ‘dependent on which staff are made redundant’.

The school last week made clear the proposals were, at this stage, a consultation.

According to the business plan that consultation will end on April 28 with the school planning to inform staff of any compulsory redundancies in the week commencing May 1.

Head Nick Toyne did not comment on the document directly when contacted by The Gazette.

He said: “We are currently in a consultation period regarding the future arrangements for support staff at Devonshire Primary Academy.

“This is an open procedure and staff are encouraged to participate and to suggest alternative ideas that put the needs of the children first.

“All suggestions and comments will be considered.

“No final plans or decisions have been made or confirmed and will not be until the end of the consultation.”

Mr Toyne said the school would make no further statement until the consultation had closed.

Last week trade union UNISON, which represents the majority of teaching assistants at Devonshire, raised serious concerns for staff who may be asked to adjust their hours or could lose their jobs.

Dave Dickinson of Blackpool Unison said: "There will be significant reductions.

"They are insisting that there should be 30-hour posts. At the moment people work a variety of different hours and there will be members of staff who cannot take on a full-time post because of other commitments.

"Some of them have children they need to take care of.

"The staff are 100 per cent opposed to this. They will be willing to take industrial action if necessary.

"We will be organising a campaign and start the process of balloting if needed."

Devonshire Primary Academy is part of the Blackpool Multi Academy Trust.