An academy chain with schools in the East Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside is facing possible action from eight education unions over plans to axe support staff.
The unions – representing head teachers, teachers, teaching assistants and school support staff – have issued the David Ross Education Trust (DRET) with a final warning after a failure to agree over proposed cuts. Talks will now take place at conciliation service Acas.
The chain is proposing to cut nearly £1m in funding from school budgets and up to 40 jobs from across its 32 primary and secondary schools.
In an unprecedented move, the eight unions have written to DRET’s founder David Ross urging him to put planned cuts on hold. The changes come just as the trust is increasing charges to schools for services such as payroll and IT.
A survey of employees across the academy chain suggests staff believe the proposed redundancies will damage the smooth running of schools, and harm pupils’ education.
With fewer staff like caretakers, receptionists and administrative staff on hand to deal with problems, teaching assistants would be regularly called out of the classroom, say unions, which would be hugely disruptive to lessons.
Unite national officer Fiona Farmer said, “Unite condemns the action of DRET in the strongest possible terms and urges its founder David Ross to put these disruptive proposals ‘on hold’ so that constructive talks can be held with the unions.
“Academies were ‘sold’ to parents as beacons of educational excellence, but the latest development threatens the quality of children’s education at this trust, as well as our members’ employment. DRET’s reputation is being tarnished.”