School heads' warning to parents as jobs under review

Nine concerned headteachers have written a letter warning parents of a '˜bleak choice' as they struggle to balance the books.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 31st March 2017, 6:17 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:19 pm
Nine headteachers signed the letter
Nine headteachers signed the letter

They blame an eight per cent real-term cut in Government funding for putting children’s education at risk.

They wrote: “The impact of this is potentially devastating.”

The stark warning comes as Devonshire Primary Academy, in Layton, announced a review of its teaching assistant roles.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Devonshire Primary Academy in Devonshire Road wants to create 31 full time posts from 47 current roles and reduce temporary staffing levels to save money.

Another senior teacher said the move was the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and revealed at least four more Fylde coast schools are considering similar measures in a bid to make ends meet.

The consultation was revealed as headteachers at nine schools in Thornton and Cleveleys wrote to parents warning of dire consequences should budget cuts not be reversed.

They urged parents to make their MPs aware of their concerns, warning together the schools face cuts of more than £1m.

In the letter to parents, signed by the heads of Millfield, Baines Endowed, Thornton Primary, Northfold, Red Marsh, Royles Brook, Sacred Heart, Stanah and Manor Beach, concerns are raised over staffing levels.

It says the savings schools are being asked to find by the Government equate to a cut of eight per cent.

“The Department for Education has insisted that it has protected school budgets in real terms,” the letter adds. “It simply is not true.

“The impact of this is potentially devastating with schools already considering cuts to the curriculum, the ability to maintain current opening hours and the potential increase in class sizes.”

The letter warns of ‘a bleak choice’ between maintaining staff levels or running up ‘untenable’ budget deficits.

Meanwhile, bosses at Devonshire, part of the Blackpool Multi-Academy Trust, said no jobs are currently at risk.

The academy – one of at least five schools in the area to consider such measures – is asking teaching assistants, some of whom are already on part time hours, to consider flexible working and job sharing. Headteacher Nick Toyne said: “The consultation puts the needs of the pupils first while recognising the changing financial environment for schools. Savings will be made through the reduction of temporary staff and permanent staff have been asked to consider changing their current work pattern, in order to provide more afternoon cover.”

No final decision has been made on the shape of the restructure, Mr Toyne said.

The school has not said how many full time positions would be lost should the proposals go ahead.

Andy Mellor, headteacher at St Nicholas Primary in School Lane, Marton, and a leading figure in the National Association of Headteachers insisted the news from Devonshire was ‘just the tip of the iceberg’. He said: “I have been invited to at least four other restructure meetings at schools in Blackpool.

“The fact is the money being put into schools is not enough to pay for the staff.

“If somebody believes there are more efficiencies to be made they are living in cloud cuckoo land.”

Dave Dickinson of Blackpool Unison, the union that represents school support staff, said: “There will be significant reductions. They are insisting that there should be 30-hour posts. 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.”

The NUT said it was not aware of any threat to teaching jobs at the school although it is understood a number of staff are on temporary contracts.

The Department for Education said Lancashire, overall, would not lose out on any funding as a result of the changes with Blackpool schools 4.1 per cent, or £3.1m better off.

A spokesman said: “The government has protected the core schools budget in real terms since 2010.

“But the system for distributing that funding across the country is unfair, opaque and outdated. We are going to end the historic post code lottery in school funding.”