Cuts to Barking school’s special needs service slammed

Barking Abbey School in Barking

Barking Abbey School in Barking - Credit: Archant

A union boss has called for a headteacher to subsidise his own salary instead of cutting staff who help children with special educational needs.

About seven teaching assistants are expected to be made redundant from Barking Abbey school but Unison branch secretary, Dave Clarke, has insisted savings should be found elsewhere to help pay for the secondary school’s £400,000 deficit.

“When you take the special educational needs teachers out what happens is those children are going to feel the difference,” he told the Post.

“The school is making £400,000 savings but the headteacher doesn’t consider making a cut to his own salary.

“I understand about three or four senior staff have had a pay rise too.

“The headteacher should be offering a pay cut and leading by example.”

Dave suggested that the cuts suggest that the school has decided that helping children with special educational needs is “not a priority”, adding “I think the cuts need to be found in a different way”.

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The union is looking at whether the school has breached protocol by not giving staff 10 working days to appeal their redundancies.

He also disputes the Sandringham Road school’s claim that the redundancies were voluntary.

“I have seen some of the letters of termination to teaching assistants and four or five have received compulsory redundancies,” he said. “And, the time frame didn’t meet the criteria. They’ve breached the protocol.

“Staff who have worked there for years are being treated as if they’ve only been there a month – it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.”

A spokeswoman for the school said: “Every year, at about this time, schools will look at making adjustments to match what they need for pupils and the curriculum.

“There is an ongoing restructure of classroom assistants which has gone through normal consultation channels with trade unions and fully considered the needs of all of our pupils.”