Over the last few weeks I have been made aware that many members of the support teaching staff and early years educators at my kids’ school are taking voluntary redundancy. Voluntary Redundancy is a legal term. It’s not a real thing. One of these members of staff has worked at the school for 24 years and still has one of her own children attending in Rufus’s year. There is no rational reason why she would take voluntary redundancy at this stage of her life however the other options available to all the leaving staff were just not practical. She could go up against her fellow colleagues for a job that was paying less money than she was currently on, another option made available for the nursery staff was to take a down grade in their position from running the nursery to being under the instruction of a teacher. So while the term might be voluntary, it’s more a form of constructive dismissal.
Under the Tory government schools have seen a huge amount of funding cuts all in the name of austerity. However as a country we still find the money to give £1bn to the DUP, continuing pay rises for MPs and further tax cuts for the 1%. Our local school has seen cuts of over £300,000 in the last four years and the latest cut of £125,000 has resulted in the loss of some truly experienced and beloved members of staff who represent our community.
I first heard about the job losses through word of mouth and to say I was outraged would be a huge understatement. I didn’t go public (online anyway) with the news as I didn’t want to cause any further trouble for the departing staff, however last Friday the information was announced in the weekly newsletter so now I’m sharing my views.
While I do not fully blame the school for the loss of staff, they have to save money somewhere thanks to the continuing shortfall from the government, I do question their decision making. You can spend all the money you want on computers, the latest technologies, and resources but if you don’t have the experienced staff to use it, it won’t make a difference. A friend of mine, a fellow parent at the school, told me of how she knows that the years of experience a teaching assistant had truly impacted her son’s first year at school. For while his speech was not very clear and at times he was really quite difficult to understand. The newly qualified teacher that was teaching him that year, struggled to know what he needed. However thanks to the TA ,who has seen it all before, my friend’s son was fully supported in his lessons. These staffing changes are a true example of knowing the cost of everything and value of nothing. Our children really are the future. In twenty or thirty years time, they’ll be making the decisions and I would rather they know the value of loyalty, experience and hard work than how to save a penny.
The staff at the school are more than just educators, they’re family, they’re part of the village that helps us raise our children and to see them leave after so many years is heartbreaking. I’m sure that any new staff that are brought in will be fine, good even, but it’ll take a while for us to trust them, for them to get to know us and our children and that is a hard fact to swallow.
When I look back on my childhood and education, it’s not the computers and school trips that stand out, it’s the teacher that knew Grammar School was not the right fit for me, the dinner lady who helped me when I’d fallen out with my friends and the admin staff who cared for me when I was sick. Like I said, I know changes will have to be made to accommodate the funding cuts but is this really the best way for our kids?
So what can we do? Do we write to our MPs? Do we march on Westminster? Again, I think it’s time for the peasants to revolt. Let’s save our schools before it’s too late.
If you want to find out if schools in your area have had their funding cut you can check out this website:
If you want to learn more about what you can do then check out the National Education Union: