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Academy chain criticised for offering staff ‘downgraded roles’ amid redundancy consultations

PUBLISHED: 17:46 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:46 24 June 2020

Cobholm Primary Academy, Great Yarmouth.  Picture: James Bass

Cobholm Primary Academy, Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2016

An academy chain has been criticised for expecting its staff to apply for “downgraded positions” following the announcement of restructuring plans at three coastal schools.

Cobholm Primary Academy, Great Yarmouth, is one of the three schools facing restructuring consultations.  Picture: James BassCobholm Primary Academy, Great Yarmouth, is one of the three schools facing restructuring consultations. Picture: James Bass

The Inspiration Trust is consulting on how Great Yarmouth Primary Academy, Cobholm Academy and Stradbroke Academy can “raise standards and improve the education of children” - largely via smaller class sizes and the recruitment of more qualified teachers.

As part of this, fourteen new roles are being created but many other jobs could be lost.

According to the trust, the new roles consist of five teachers, one parent support officer, one attendance officer, three inclusion support officers, one administrator, five classroom assistants, two SEN classroom assistants and one higher-level teaching assistant.

But a source close to the school told this newspaper that this amounted to an “exchanging of titles” in an effort to save money, with current members of staff expected to compete for jobs with less responsibility and lower pay.

Great Yarmouth Primary Academy, an Inspiration Trust school, and one of three in the Great Yarmouth area that could see job losses under a consultation. Picture: Angela Sharpe PhotographyGreat Yarmouth Primary Academy, an Inspiration Trust school, and one of three in the Great Yarmouth area that could see job losses under a consultation. Picture: Angela Sharpe Photography

He said: “The ‘classroom assistants’ are simply re-named teaching assistants with vastly reduced positions. These are at a reduced grade, lower pay and hours and they are expecting the current TAs to apply for them.

“The message of doing things for the benefit of the children is very different to the one that has been put out in the consultation to the staff.”

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In response, the trust admitted that the schools would “no longer need teaching assistants” under new proposals.

Stradbroke Primary Academy in Gorleston is one of three Inspiration Trust schools in the Yarmouth are seeing a staff consultation Picture: Archant archiveStradbroke Primary Academy in Gorleston is one of three Inspiration Trust schools in the Yarmouth are seeing a staff consultation Picture: Archant archive

They said: “Teaching assistants offer a high level of support for teachers and lead on certain tasks.

“Due to the increased number of teachers, smaller classes and other new roles we’ve proposed, we would no longer need teaching assistants.

“Instead, we are proposing the recruitment of classroom assistants - this role has less responsibility and is solely supportive. They would be providing administrative support, supervising and supporting children in class/on trips and administering first aid.

They added: “If the proposals go ahead, we will be encouraging our staff members to apply for any of the new roles (classroom assistants and promoted roles) that they are qualified for.”

They added: “No posts will be advertised externally until existing employees have had the opportunity to apply. We understand this is a difficult time, but we need to make these changes to improve the education of our children.”

GYPA is in Ofsted special measures and Cobholm “requires improvement.”

Stradbroke was handed a “Good” rating following its last inspection in 2017.


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