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Teaching assistants axed at Rushmere Hall and Sidegate primary schools in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 16:10 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:10 17 May 2017

There are fears other schools in Ipswich will reduce their number of teaching assistants. Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA WIRE

There are fears other schools in Ipswich will reduce their number of teaching assistants. Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA WIRE

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Schools in Ipswich are axing classroom assistants to save money, and a union head has warned “teachers will be next”.

Graham White, from Suffolk NUT, says schools have been hit by Government cutbacks. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDGraham White, from Suffolk NUT, says schools have been hit by Government cutbacks. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The Star has learnt that at least 15 teaching assistants will lose their jobs across Rushmere Hall and Sidegate primary schools at the end of this academic year, but there are fears of similar cuts at other schools in the town.

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, said schools were not getting enough funding from the Government to account for rising costs and growing pupil numbers.

He said: “The teaching assistants are absolutely vital. If you take those out of the schools then it means pupils are going to be less able to cope with the school curriculum.

“Pupils are going to lose out. We are going to end up with pupils not able to achieve the best they can because the Government has made the decision not to put enough money in education.

Headteacher of Sidegate Primary School, Wendy James. Picture: GREGG BROWNHeadteacher of Sidegate Primary School, Wendy James. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“At the moment it’s cutting teaching assistants, and teachers will be next.

“That means we are going to end up with even bigger class sizes, and the curriculum is squeezed even further. So this is really not good news.”

Sidegate Primary School is understood to be losing eight teaching assistants from September.

Headteacher Wendy James said: “Due to the budgetary challenges all schools are currently facing, we like many others are looking for ways to optimize our resources.

Paul Stock, headteacher of Rushmere Hall Primary School. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDPaul Stock, headteacher of Rushmere Hall Primary School. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

“As a result we have taken the decision not to renew the fixed-term contracts of just under a third of Sidegate’s teaching assistants.”

Rushmere Hall Primary School has 18 fixed-term teaching assistants, all of whom will not have their contracts renewed in the next academic year.

Those who lose their jobs will be able to apply for nine to 11 new, more “flexible” roles, which will include helping pupils one-to-one.

Headteacher Paul Stock said this was part of a “staffing rejig” in response to rising pupil numbers and was nothing to with Government cuts, although ultimately the changes would save the school money.

He added: “We worked out what it is the kids need then we have worked back from that.

“We are making sure we have the TAs (teaching assistants) in position when we need them, so predominately mornings during literacy and maths.

“From a parent perspective they are not going to notice any difference because the support that needs to be in place will still be there.

“It will save money because long-term we just want to make sure we have got a structure that is sustainable.”


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