Job losses shock at two academies

29/1/14- Helenswood Academy, Hastings. SUS-150502-103355001
29/1/14- Helenswood Academy, Hastings. SUS-150502-103355001

Teaching and support staff face an uncertain future at both Helenswood and William Parker Academies.

As many as 64 people could be made redundant as part of a cost-cutting measure by Ark Schools, the body that runs both of the secondary schools.

A member of teaching staff at one of the academies told the Observer: “We were called to a meeting at 4.30pm on Wednesday and given the news. It was completely unexpected.

“We were told that 28 teaching staff would be made redundant and that they would be seeking voluntary redundancies in the first instance.

“Less than an hour after being told we had to meet people at an open evening for prospective parents and promote the school. It has left staff facing uncertainty about their future.”

Karen Cooke, GMB convenor, said she the union was ‘outraged’ at the news.

She said: “These proposals follow a reduction of around 35 support staff only last year at William Parker.

“If these proposals go ahead it will be hugely detrimental to those who are made redundant, the remaining staff who will be tasked with improving standards and GCSE results with a reduced workforce and not least of all the pupils.

“When Ark was chosen as a ‘strong and effective sponsor’ for both schools, we were promised that it would support the schools to ‘secure the best education for all students’ and that Ark would ‘improve leadership and expertise’, offering ‘transformational opportunities’ for the students.

“This clearly hasn’t turned out to be the case. The pupils of these schools have a right to the best education but have been let down. They only get one chance of a secondary education.

“If these proposals go ahead it will decimate both academies, pushing them further down the list of first choice schools for parents and pupils.

“Parents and staff will vote with their feet.”

Dave Brinson, secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in East Sussex, said: “The NUT is due to meet with management at Ark William Parker and Helenswood Academies later in the month.

“This meeting will seek further detail on any staffing proposals.

“The NUT is opposed to any compulsory redundancies of our members, and will consider action up to and including strike action should this prove necessary.

“We want to engage in good faith with Ark management, and are hopeful that a positive outcome can be reached.”

A spokesman for Ark Schools in Hastings, said: “We have made the really difficult decision to undertake a restructure at Ark William Parker and Helenswood Academies.

“Both schools have suffered from falling pupil numbers for some time, partly as a result of demographic changes across East Sussex, at the same time as decreased national funding and increased costs.

“We expect this restructure to affect around 19 teaching and support posts at Ark William Parker and 45 teaching and support staff at Helenswood.

“A sizeable proportion of the savings will be made by streamlining the senior leadership teams.

“After having explored every viable option, it is clear that if we are to secure the long-term future of both schools and the continued provision of high-quality, single-sex education in Hastings then it is important that we act.

“We will be consulting with staff, trade unions, parents, the local governing bodies, diocese and local authority throughout the process.

“As with everything we

do, our number one focus is on improving educational outcomes and we will be doing everything we can to ensure minimal disruption to our

students and to support our staff during this difficult time.”