Academy workers face jobs threat

UNISON is organising meetings and support after Cheshire academy chain announced 43 redundancies at seven schools across the county

UNISON is meeting members at an academy schools chain across Cheshire after their employer announced 43 redundancies at seven schools.

At the same time, UNISON, NEU, NASUWT and ASCL have written to local MP Mike Amesbury – a member of the local government select committee – to ask for meeting where they can discuss the threat to jobs and school provision.

The University of Chester Academies Trust operates schools in Ellesmere Port, Warrington, Chester, Kidsgrove (two schools), Northwich and Weaverham.

UNISON contacted staff at the seven schools, pledging that “in conjunction with all the teaching unions, we will be working collectively” to find a way forward that avoids compulsory redundancies.

The academy chain is blaming very low pupil numbers and severe financial difficulties for the threat to jobs. Schools in Ellesmere Port and Kidsgrove in Staffordshire will be hardest hit, with some facing up to 15 job losses affecting school staff and teachers.

UNISON regional organiser Keith Bradley said the union will be working “to ensure that the academy chain and the funding agency do all they can to avert or minimise redundancies”.

“Our schools are integral to the cohesion of our communities,” he added, “and it makes a big impact when staff lose their jobs due to a lack of funding

“The school support staff that we represent perform valuable roles, including teaching assistants, administrators and caretakers.

“Many have worked in their local school for many years and are part of the community they serve. It’s a tragedy that they face the prospect of losing their jobs, and it can only have a negative effect on pupils.

“Unlike council-run schools, academy chains are not accountable to the communities they serve, and are remote from the impact of the damaging decisions that they make.”

He called on the government “to stop its dogmatic insistence and academisation and fund all schools properly”.