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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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Teachers fear for their futures at closing Cumbrian schools

Teachers and staff at two schools plunged into special measures this week are fearful for their future.

Alan Rutter photo
Alan Rutter

Related: Ofsted puts senior schools in same town into special measures

But a teaching union leader has told the News & Star that although Workington’s Stainburn School and Southfield Technology College will shut at the end of the year before reopening as a single academy next January, it is impossible to say what the staffing situation will be.

Alan Rutter, of Cumbria’s National Union of Teachers, said that depending on the number of students attending, staffing levels could either go “up or down”.

“I’m sure there are staff in these schools who are very concerned about their future,” said Mr Rutter. “It’s like swings and roundabouts. It won’t be the case that staff will all get the sack – they will be transferred to the new school.”

And because there will not be an immediate closure of schools, there is time to prepare for the situation, he added. One possible outcome could be that members of staff who are nearing retirement age could decide to leave.

There will be a full consultation with all staff at both schools about their future roles, and the county council said that all staff would automatically be transferred to the academy.

A council spokesman said: “There will have to be a shake-up, but we will be fully consulting with staff. There will not be a situation where everyone will have to reapply for a new job.”

He added that it would be “impossible” to say whether there would be any redundancies, adding that compulsory redundancies would be the “last thing” they would want to do.

However, a decision on whether either of the school’s two serving headteachers – Chris McGrath and Lynda Dalkin – would be taken on as head of the new academy would be down to the new sponsors.

Ofsted reports published this week, revealed how both of the secondary schools were rated as inadequate.

Cumbria County Council has now stepped in and will use new powers to start formal consultations on plans to close the schools while launching a search to find a sponsor to open a new academy to replace them.

The academy would operate over the two school sites until a new purpose-built campus, most likely on the Stainburn site, has been built. It is predicted it would be ready to open in late 2016.

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