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Teachers "all facing redundancy" at Harrogate school

Teachers "all facing redundancy" at Harrogate school

Published by Lisa Darvill at 7:12am 6th December 2019.

Staff at a Harrogate School say they're facing redundancy as it prepares for a large budget cut. 

The Grove Academy is one of North Yorkshire's pupil referral units, which take on students who've been excluded from mainstream education. 

In February North Yorkshire County Council approved plans to cut funding for the service. It means The Grove Academy is going to lose two thirds of its budget in Easter 2020.  

PRU protest
Campaigners protesting against the cuts

Staff at The Grove have told Stray FM they are now fearing redundancies as a new academy trust gets ready to take over the school. 

Dave Hamilton, who's been teaching there since 2004 said: 

"We assume we're in work after Christmas. We assume there's a new academy taking over and we assume there's going to be a lot of changes to our current structure.

"We don't know anything other than that word assume, and that's quite worrying. It's not easy for the staff at this stage. 

"It's just a terrible way for people to end their careers."  

Chris Kitson, a teacher at The Grove since 2005 added: 

"We've got a very experienced staff team all facing redundancy because collectively, we're deemed to be expensive. 

"But you can guarantee that what replaces us will be ineffective and they'll end up spending more money in the long run.

"It'll almost certainly mean the break-up of a long-standing experienced team, some of us have been here for 15, 20 years." 

Earlier this year teachers at The Grove took strike action.

PRU strike
Teachers at The Grove on strike

Dave and Chris also raised concerns about how the service will be restructured. 

Chris said: 

"Our main concern is the ratios. We deal with a maximum class size of four.

"But the new structure, we're told we'll be dealing with class sizes of eight to ten. That's eight to ten of the most difficult students all in the same room with less experienced staff.

"It seems to me to be a recipe for disaster."

North Yorkshire County Council confirmed a new academy was in talks to take over the running of the school. 

Stuart Carlton, North Yorkshire's Director of the Children and Young People's Service said:

"The Delta Academy Trust continues its advanced discussions with the Regional Schools Commissioner to re-broker the sponsorship of the Grove to another multi-academy trust (MAT).  An established MAT with a track record in special schools and alternative provision has confirmed its interest and has been approved to take over sponsorship of the Grove under the new funding arrangements.  

"The approved MAT is now in negotiation with Delta and the RSC on finalising the transfer of the academy.

"How the Grove delivers the PRS service under new arrangements is a matter for the academy trust. The County Council continues to work with local school leaders in Harrogate and surrounding areas in developing new arrangements for how young people access the support they need from alternative provision."

The county council says its restructure has an emphasis on driving down exclusion rates.

Coun Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s executive member for education and skills, said earlier this year:

"Permanent exclusions have risen significantly, despite our investment in the pupil referral service of over £4.7m each year.

"The present system is not working."

Stray FM contacted both Delta Academy and Wellspring Academy, who we understand to be the new academy set to take over the school, for comment. 

We are yet to receive a reply from either academy trust. 



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