UK's largest academy trust's caretaker cuts pose serious risk to pupils

Press release
10 May 2017 by ATL Media Office
Education unions [1] issued a warning over plans announced today (Tuesday) by an academy chain to slash £1.4 million from its schools’ estates budgets.

Some schools face losing 50% of site staff under academy chain’s 'controversial' plans.

Under the plan the London-based Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) proposes to cut the number of buildings and estates staff in schools by over 25%, resulting in at least 34 redundancies across its 66 primary, special and secondary academies.

Schools across the UK are affected – including those in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Middlesbrough, Barnsley, Gloucester and Milton Keynes. [See note 2 for a full list of affected schools]

Some schools would see the number of caretakers cut by 50%, with one earmarked to lose two-thirds of its site staff.

Education unions are warning of the impact the cuts will have on the safe running of schools.

To date the trust has not even provided the unions with a health and safety risk assessment of its plans.

The unions are calling on AET to halt the plan immediately in favour of a proper period of genuine consultation with the schools, staff, and parents.

As part of its cuts plans, the trust is also proposing to take the management of site staff and estates budgets away from schools, which will undermine the ability of individual heads and principals to make urgent decisions in the best interests of their pupils and staff, say the unions.

AET's recently appointed chief executive Julian Drinkall is reportedly receiving an annual salary of £240,000 [3] despite Ofsted warnings over executive pay at academy chains such as AET. [4]

Sharon Wilde, GMB National Officer for Schools said:

“It is completely unacceptable that our dedicated members should be asked to pay the price for this academy chain’s mistakes with ill-thought through cuts to front line jobs at the heart of our communities – these controversial plans are putting children at risk.

"AET must immediately halt this dangerous scheme in favour of a proper period of genuine consultation with schools, staff, and parents.”

Jon Richards, UNISON head of education, said:

"This is the second academy chain in a matter of weeks to announce huge cuts and it won't be the last, as Government funding cuts bite.

"For schools to provide a safe environment for children, estates employees must be available on site around the clock. These cuts will mean lots of extra work for remaining staff, which will have a massive impact on what they are able to do. It will put pupils at risk."

Fiona Farmer, Unite national officer, said:

"Once again we are seeing a threat to children’s education and our members' livelihoods as another academy trust pursues its flawed financial strategy.

"We call upon AET to engage in meaningful talks with all parties and halt this damaging process."

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers, said:

“This is an irresponsible plan which shows a lack of appreciation of the vital front-line services it will affect.

“Schools should not be run like this, with a remote and highly-paid tier of management failing to consult over changes that will affect pupil safety."

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:

“These ill-conceived and rushed proposals need a serious re-think.

“The scale of the changes and cutting so many caretakers will have major detrimental implications for pupils and all school staff, and ATL calls upon AET to think again.”

Russell Hobby, General Secretary NAHT, said:

"These proposals will have major impact on schools and may have serious health and safety implications for pupils and staff.

“Proper consultation needs to take place with the staff and school leaders to ensure such key services are fit for purpose."

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“Despite assurances from the trust that it would address the concerns we raised before going ahead with its proposals, this has not happened.

”Major reorganisations of this nature must be prepared for thoroughly, so that the end result is fit for purpose: something AET has failed to do.”

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“The NASUWT is concerned about any proposed job losses.

"It is unacceptable to compromise the health, safety and welfare of pupils and staff and we believe that AET should radically rethink these proposals.”

ENDS

Contact: GMB press office on 07958 156846 or at press.office@gmb.org.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS

[1] The eight unions involved are GMB, Unison, Unite, ASCL, NAHT, NASUWT, the NUT and ATL.

[2]

Winton Community Academy

Andover

Hampshire

SP10 2PS

Ashingdon Primary Academy

Ashingdon

Essex

SS4 3LN

Meadstead Primary Academy

Barnsley

 

S71 4JS

Shafton Primary Academy

Barnsley

 

S72 8QA

St Helen's Primary Academy

Barnsley

 

S71 2PS

Pioneer School

Basildon

Essex

SS14 2LA

Everest Community Academy

Basingstoke

Hampshire

RG24 9UP

Bexleyheath Academy

Bexleyheath

 

DA6 7DA

Four Dwellings Primary Academy

Birmingham

 

B32 1PJ

Greenwood Academy

Birmingham

 

B35 7NL

Lea Forest Primary Academy

Birmingham

 

B33 9RD

Montgomery Primary Academy

Birmingham

 

B11 1EH

Percy Shurmer Primary Academy

Birmingham

 

B12 9ED

Feversham Primary Academy

Bradford

 

BD3 9EG

Broadlands Academy

Bristol

 

BS31 2DY

Anglesey Primary Academy

Burton on Trent

Staffs

DE14 3LG

Columbus School and College

Chelmsford

Essex

CM1 4ZB

The Ridge (formerly Amberley Ridge BESN)

Cheltenham

Gloucs

GL52 5QH

Offa's Mead Primary Academy

Chepstow

Gloucs

NP16 7DT

Clacton Coastal Academy

Clacton on Sea

Essex

CO15 3JL

St James the Great Primary Academy

East Malling

Kent

ME19 6SD

Felixstowe Academy

Felixstowe

 

IP11 9QR

Langer Primary Academy

Felixstowe

Suffolk

IP11 2HL

Tendring Technology College, an AET Academy

Frinton on Sea

Essex

CO13 0AZ

Brockworth Primary Academy

Gloucester

 

GL3 4JL

Millbrook Academy

Gloucester

 

GL3 4QF

Greensward Academy

Hockley

Essex

SS5 5HG

Plumberow Primary Academy

Hockley

Essex

SS5 5BX

Westerings Primary Academy

Hockley

Essex

SS5 4NZ

New Forest Academy

Holbury

Southampton

SO45 2PA

Kingsley Academy

Hounslow

Middlesex

TW3 1NE

Hall Road Academy

Hull

 

HU6 8PP

Kingswood Academy

Hull

 

HU7 4WR

Newington Academy

Hull

East Yorkshire

HU3 5DD

The Green Way Academy

Hull

 

HU6 8HD

Cottingley Primary Academy

Leeds

 

LS11 0HU

Swallow Hill Community College

Leeds

 

LS12 3DS

Aylward Academy

London

 

N18 1NB

Nightingale Academy

London

 

N9 8DQ

Noel Park Primary School

London

 

N22 6LH

Richmond Park Academy

London

 

SW14 8RG

Trinity Primary Academy

London

 

N22 8ES

Beacon Primary Academy (formerly Shelthorpe Community School)

Loughborough

 

LE11 2NF

Cordeaux Academy

Louth

 

LN11 0HG

Utterby Primary Academy (part of federation with North Thoresby), Louth

Louth

 

LN11 0TN

Caldicotes Primary Academy

Middlesbrough

 

TS3 9HD

Hillsview Academy (Formerly Eston Park & Gillbrook Academies)

Middlesbrough

 

TS6 9AG

North Ormesby Primary Academy

Middlesbrough

 

TS3 6LB

Unity City Academy

Middlesbrough

 

TS3 8RE

Charles Warren Academy

Milton Keynes

 

MK6 3AZ

Sir Herbert Leon Academy

Milton Keynes

 

MK2 3HQ

North Thoresby Primary School (part of federation with Utterby), Grimsby

North Thoresby

Grimsby

DN36 5PL

Newlands Academy

Peckham Rye

London

SE15 3AZ

Four Dwellings Academy

Quinton

Birmingham

B32 1RJ

Ryde Academy

Ryde

IOW

PO33 3LN

Sandown Bay Academy

Sandown

IOW

PO36 9JH

Firth Park Academy

Sheffield

 

S5 0SD

Severn View Primary Academy (formerly Parliament)

Stroud

Gloucs

GL5 1NL

Hazelwood Academy

Swindon

Wiltshire

SN5 8DR

Tamworth Enterprise College

Tamworth

Staffs

B77 2NE

The Rawlett School, An AET Academy

Tamworth

Staffs

B79 9AA

Barton Hill Academy

Torquay

Devon

TQ2 8JA

Hamford Primary Academy

Walton on the Naze

Essex

CO14 8TE

Maltings Academy

Witham

Essex

CM8 1EP

New Rickstones Academy

Witham

Essex

CM8 2SD

Wishmore Cross Academy

Woking

Surrey

GU24 8NE



[3] https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/exclusive-new-boss-englands-biggest-academy-chain-consider-converting

[4] http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/news-ezine/chief-inspector-raises-concerns-about-performance-of-multi-academy-trusts/116778/322589/

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