One of the poorest performing academy trusts in the country has announced plans to axe teaching posts. UNISON is concerned that cuts to teaching numbers will inevitably impact on school support staff.
The latest cuts follow three years of support staff cutbacks and a damning report by OFSTED which found failings in leadership, transparency and accountability, and poor financial management.
The University of Chester Academy Trust (UCAT) has seen a dramatic fall in pupil numbers of 22 per cent between 2012 and 2015. It is predicted that pupil numbers will have fallen by 26 per cent by the 2016 intake with further reductions expected.
UNISON North West’s Lead for Schools, Keith Bradley said:-
“This academy chain is in a vicious circle of decline and it is children’s education that is suffering. Cuts to staffing levels mean rising class sizes and falling quality. Falling pupil in-take numbers then create financial pressure to cut yet more staff.
“Parents in Ellesmere Port, Kidsgrove, Northwich and Warrington are being poorly-served by the academy system which means they must either send their child to their declining local school or travel further afield. Every community should have a good local school with a place for every child.
“The government’s ill-conceived plan to force schools to become academies appears more ridiculous by the day as the reality of academies is exposed. Parents have been voting with their feet with UCAT as they see the failure of the academy system up close.
“We have been working with the employer alongside the NUT and NASUWT to save jobs as cutbacks will damage the children’s education in the secondary schools affected. We fear that support staff could be next in the firing line. Teaching Assistants are already under enormous pressure and underappreciated for the work they do. Teachers would not be able to teach without them. This goes for all support staff in schools who simply want to contribute to a first class education that they would expect for their own children. UNISON is considering a ballot of members for industrial action in response to any further attacks on staff, many of whom are low paid.”