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Union fears teacher losses

PUBLISHED: 09:04 05 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:18 05 July 2010

SCRAPPING Suffolk's middle schools could force hundreds of talented teachers out of the county, union leaders claimed last night.

Middle schools in Lowestoft and Haverhill will be closed in 2011 as part of a £23m plan to introduce a two tier system of primary and secondary schools throughout the county.

SCRAPPING Suffolk's middle schools could force hundreds of talented teachers out of the county, union leaders claimed last night.

Middle schools in Lowestoft and Haverhill will be closed in 2011 as part of a £23m plan to introduce a two tier system of primary and secondary schools throughout the county.

But the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has said that the closures will cause unnecessary disruption for pupils and lead to staff looking for more settled jobs elsewhere before the changes take place.

County secretary for the NUT Martin Goold said that Suffolk County Council should encourage schools to federate so that they share governing bodies and can make linked staffing decisions to avoid a mass exodus of teachers from Suffolk in the next couple of years.

Mr Goold said: “Federation allows for much more flexibility. The council is setting itself up for a great deal of personnel problems by not putting a proper process in place to secure jobs.

“At the moment they are hoping that teachers will be able to get jobs in secondary or primary schools and that others will take voluntary redundancy, but there needs to be an actual process to oversee it.

“The only way we can see any hope of managing these movements of staff and pupils in a sensible and calm way and avoiding mass redundancies is to have joint staffing decisions being made from now, not just in two years time.”

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said that a staffing protocol is already in place which encourages schools to consider appointing from within Suffolk before advertising vacancies more widely.

He said: “The school organisation review is focused on improving education standards in Suffolk. We will ensure young people, schools, teachers and support staff are supported throughout the process, and ensure changes are implemented in a controlled manner to minimise disruption.

“It is important that there is a firm date identified where changes will take place. Otherwise the period of change would continue for a longer, potentially increasing the anxiety for children, parents, teachers and school support staff.

“It is not possible, nor should it be, for the county council to require schools to enter a partnership (federate). If schools decided federation is the best way for them to manage the transition, the county council would fully support them in that decision.”

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