"The experience here brings into doubt the stability and fairness of the whole academy programme."
Ellesmere Port Church of England College has written to all staff requesting volunteers for redundancy. Unions were informed of the letters by management last night (Tuesday).
The College is now part of the Frank Field Education Trust (FFET) having previously been run by the University of Chester Academies Trust (UCAT). UCAT was closed down in 2018 due to financial difficulties and staff, parents and pupils in Ellesmere Port were given assurances that FFET could bring stability to the College’s finances.
However, the shock news that FFET is seeking to make redundancies has thrown its financial viability into doubt.
Keith Bradley, regional organiser for UNISON, the union that represents support staff in schools, said:
“This is a very worrying development for staff, parents and students. Staffing levels need to be maintained in order for pupils to receive a high quality education.
“We have requested detailed financial information from FFET as it is not clear that these redundancies are necessary. We are very concerned that FFET have expressed an intention to undertake further restructuring even after these voluntary redundancies are made. FFET need to come clean about their financial situation and their future plans.
“Pupils, parents and staff have been through this before when UCAT ran the school. It is not right that the future of young people in Ellesmere Port can be jeopardised by the financial circumstances of these academy trust chains. The experience here brings into doubt the stability and fairness of the whole academy programme. We need high quality schools that are accountable to local communities.”