Suffolk teachers face redundancy

A NUMBER of teaching staff in Suffolk are facing redundancy as schools struggle to balance their books.

Simon Tomlinson

A NUMBER of teaching staff in Suffolk are facing redundancy as schools struggle to balance their books, it emerged today.

A union boss said he knows of “six or seven” schools which have declared redundancies for the next academic year, affecting up to 15 teacher and teaching assistant posts.

Graham White, Suffolk secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), claimed it was the worst case of redundancies in the last 15 years and feared the situation could snowball with the anticipated belt-tightening in the public sector.

The cuts have been blamed on falling pupil numbers at some schools.

Because each school's budget is related to its pupil numbers, some headteachers are now having to find ways to even out the balance sheet.

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Mr White said: “I am very unhappy there are so many redundancies. I have got five meetings lined up with schools to discuss job cuts.

“I am concerned that we are making staff redundant when what we should be doing is keeping the number of staff up to improve education.

“It is the worst that I can remember it in the last 15 years or so.”

Mr White said some of the schools currently declaring redundancies were in the Ipswich area, but he did not wish to disclose which ones.

He said others came from the western and northern areas of the county, which he claimed were due to the planned closure of middle schools in the Schools Organisational Review.

Suffolk County Council conceded there could be scenarios where posts are axed, but said it would “do everything” to maximise the number of teaching staff.

Graham Newman, the county's portfolio-holder for children, schools and young people, said that while the schools budget was to increase by 4.2% for 2010/11, he did not believe this was sufficient to meet rising overheads.

He said: “It is obviously essential that they [schools] produce a balanced budget.

“To achieve this, there could be situations going forward where it may be necessary to make a teacher or a teaching assistant redundant, particularly if a school is suffering falling numbers.”

He added that he wanted to “dispel the myth” that the Schools Organisation Review would cause long-term teacher unemployment.