Plans to axe more than half the teaching support staff at two east London primary schools has prompted Unite the union to ballot its members for strike action.
Unite has 10 members at the Colvestone primary school and the Thomas Fairchild community school – and they will be balloted for strike action from Friday (December 11) over restructuring plans which include changes to terms and conditions, and redundancies. The ballot closes on Friday, January 8.
The schools are part of the Hackney-based Soaring Skies Federation which educates more than 600 children and Unite said there are potentially 18 jobs at risk out of the about 30-strong teaching support staff.
The federation claims that the reason for the restructuring is that there are falling numbers of pupils attending the school, but Unite disputes this, saying its members now have more time to spend with often disadvantaged children.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said, “One of the major areas of concern during the pandemic has been the impact on children and their education – and this has been at the centre of intense national debate.
“Yet now, we are in a position where our members employed as teaching assistants at the Soaring Skies Federation face losing their jobs.
“The irony is that in these schools, based on the federation’s own figures, staff now have more time to spend with the children,” he added.
“What kind of a system is it which means that because staff now have more time to spend with children, staff numbers need to be cut?
“Somewhere along the line, somebody has clearly forgotten what schools exist for – supporting often vulnerable children through education and the life chances that they provide.”
Unite is liaising in the protests with the other unions concerned about the plans – GMB, National Education Union (NEU) and Unison.
By Shaun Noble