14 teaching and support jobs at risk in Lancashire school

A Blackpool secondary school could make a number of teachers and other staff redundant.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 10:36 am
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 1:44 pm

Around 14 staff at Highfield Leadership Academy, a secondary school in Highfield Road, South Shore, could lose their jobs, including seven teachers and seven support staff despite disruption due to the pandemic.

A concerned member of the public claims that the teachers at risk had ‘given up their own time to deliver food for children’ when schools were closed and that they ‘worked continuously via Zoom and in school’ throughout the pandemic.

No staff have yet been made redundant according to a spokesperson for Star Academies, the trust responsible for the school.

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14 jobs are currently at risk at Highfield Leadership Academy in Blackpool, photo: Daniel Martino.

The spokesperson claimed that the school was ‘not the only one in Blackpool planning a staff restructure’.

The headteacher at Highfield Leadership Academy, Andrew Galbraith, said that pupil numbers have fallen over the years and that a restructure is needed for the ‘financial health of the school’.

The school has 727 pupils but it has capacity for up to 1,200.

“This situation has come about due to the fact that there are more secondary places available in the south of Blackpool than pupils to fill them, a situation that is projected to continue,” Mr Galbraith said.

“The staffing structure is now being adjusted so that the school can continue to deliver its high-quality curriculum effectively.

“No staff have yet been made redundant."

The school says it is working with staff whose jobs are at risk as well as their unions and professional associations.

The Blackpool branch of the National Education Union has been contacted for comment.

Mr Galbraith said that four new teaching jobs and three non-teaching jobs have been created and that ‘at risk staff’ will be given ‘priority consideration’ for the roles.

“We are very grateful for the continued support of our school community and wish to reassure parents that we will of course always strive for the very best possible outcomes for their children,” he said.

The school was rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted and placed in special measures in 2018.

During a monitoring visit last year, Ofsted said the school had made efforts to address disruption to schooling due to COVID-19.

In February 2020 the watchdog said the school was making improvements and that there was ‘a full complement of teaching staff in the school’ but ‘some teaching did not enable pupils to learn well’.

“Over the past few years, our school has undergone a significant journey of improvement," said Mr Galbraith.

"Our staff and governors have all worked extremely hard to deliver these improvements for the benefit of our pupils and our local community.”

Figures show that at least 46 school redundancies were made across Lancashire between April 2020 and March 2021, in the 576 schools advised by Lancashire County Council.

Of these, 18 were compulsory redundancies and 28 were voluntary.

Voluntary redundancy was taken by 14 teachers and 14 support staff but compulsory redundancies only affected support staff.

A Lancashire Council spokesperson said ‘most of the redundancies’ were due to the closure of two schools: Thomas Whitham 6th Form, and Hendon Brook Short Stay School.

Blackpool Borough Council, which is also responsible for advising a number of schools, does not have full data on staffing.

A spokesperson said that, in the 24 schools that they provide HR or admin services to, no redundancies had been made in the last year.

The 24 schools are a mix of community schools, voluntary aided schools (such as faith schools) and academies.

All of Blackpool’s other schools contract their HR services from outside of the council.