Yorkshire and East Midlands academy job cuts mean more pressure on classroom staff, unions warn

An academy chain with schools in the East Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside has announced today (Thursday) that as many as 40 support staff could face redundancy over plans to cut budgets.

The David Ross Education Trust launched a consultation exercise earlier today over proposals to cut nearly £1m in funding from its 32 primary and secondary schools.

The Trust has already increased the amount it charges schools to provide services such as payroll and human resources to £3.4m (up from £2m the previous year), say the unions representing school support staff – the GMB, Unite and UNISON.

The Trust is also planning to spend nearly £800,000 next year on its central teams, as it cuts jobs and budgets in schools, say the three unions.

The cuts will affect a number of different roles including caretakers, receptionists and office staff, some of whom may be forced to take a pay cut, according to the unions.

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “The government said academies meant more control for headteachers, but academy trusts are moving funds away from schools, and charging them more for administration.

“The jobs under threat are key to the smooth and safe running of these schools. If they disappear, teaching staff will have to fill in the gaps. That means less valuable time spent in the classroom educating children. Schools forking out more for trust services leaves even less cash in already struggling school budgets.”

GMB lead officer for DRET Rachelle Wilkins said: ”What some academy trusts fail to realise is the huge amount of work our support staff – the unsung heroes of our school system – do to support pupils and get the job done.

“All of these roles – from financial officer to caretaker – provide so much more than their job description suggests. They are truly education’s forgotten army, they know the children by name, help to nurture them and are part of the safe school family that allows a child to learn and grow.

“Strip these roles away, and teaching assistants will be coming out of the classrooms to fill in the gaps left by the loss of these valuable staff. Whichever way you look at this – it’s children who will suffer.”

Unite national officer for local government Fiona Farmer said: “The decision taken by DRET to pursue its flawed financial strategy at the expense of school support staff is unacceptable. Charging more for shared services will severely impact on local budgets and the quality of classroom education.”

Notes to editors:
– The jobs at risk include caretakers, administrators, receptionists, secretarial, business management, finance, human resources and data management jobs.

Media contacts:
Joe Lewis T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07970 863 411 E: j.lewis5@unison.co.uk
Shaun Noble T: 0203 371 2060 M: 07768 693940 E: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org
GMB press office E: 07958 156846 E: press.office@gmb.org.uk