Future is unclear for staff at an Ely school following job talks

Spring Meadow Infant School in High Barns, Ely. Annete Blewett is the new headteacher who joined in

Spring Meadow Infant School in High Barns, Ely. Annete Blewett is the new headteacher who joined in September 2017. - Credit: Archant

The future is unclear for staff at Spring Meadow school in Ely where for the last three weeks it has been feared nearly a third of support staff could be made redundant.

Union leaders say official paperwork shows up to 19 jobs were under threat and a further three people faced a cut in hours.

Now, despite the school issuing a statement, union leaders are unsure if the situation is better or worse than feared.

A fall in pupil numbers and the need to manage an £80,000 budget deficit meant job cut talks went to a three week consultation, which ended today (Wednesday 4).

Teaching assistants, play and lunch supervisors and administrators are among those worried for their future after paperwork showed 65 jobs could be cut to 48.

Julia Drummond, of Unison Cambridge, said: “We are unclear as to how the situation stands. I’m not sure if this is worse than feared or if staff are safe.”

Julia said management claim the school is “over staffed” which is hotly disputed by Unison.

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“We are gravely concerned that parents and the local community have had no say or involvement in the proposal to lose 19 roles supporting children’s welfare and learning.

“Parents and community stakeholders are unaware of the proposals and are due to find out after the redundancies have been made. This consultation appears to be a rush job.

“We believe any cuts to be sort sighted due to the imminent Red Roof housing development at King’s Meadow, which will soon increase the pupil numbers.

“A local authority run school could bolster their finances with a deficit budget until numbers increase, rather than lose experienced staff who work extremely hard every day to do their best for all the children at the school.”

Many staff at the High Barns setting have been there up to 20 years, UNISON says.

Any changes will come into force from September 2018.

A spokesperson for Spring Meadow Infant and Nursery School said: “The governing body has needed to make some difficult financial decisions this year in the light of a fall in the number of pupils joining the school over the past two years.

“Whilst we would not wish to need to make any staff redundant, we have to ensure that the budget allows the school to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum which meets the needs of all children.

“We have been able to maintain 19 teaching assistant posts and 15 midday supervisors, and we are therefore confident that this will not impact on children’s welfare or health and safety, and that we can continue to focus on supporting children to achieve the highest standards possible.”