Funding warning issued after potential job losses announced at Thomas Mills High School

Thomas Mills High School, Framlingham

Thomas Mills High School, Framlingham

Warnings were issued last night about the impact of education cuts in Suffolk after it emerged teachers’ jobs are at risk at one of the county’s best performing schools.

Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham says a number of staff face possible redundancy as it deals with a reduction in income and increasing costs.

Last night, the NUT claimed the problems faced by Thomas Mills were being experienced elsewhere.

And they warned it could threaten Suffolk’s ongoing efforts to improve education performance in the county’s schools.

Philip Hurst, headteacher at Thomas Mills, said the priority was the education of the pupils and the future success of the school.

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Mr Hurst added: “Our staffing needs have changed in the light of national developments and in the current financial climate we have to ensure that our structure reflects this.

“These proposals have maintained our current curriculum offer which includes a wide range of options at both GCSE and A Level.”

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Staff who are potentially affected have been informed, with movement of staff taking place, which Mr Hurst said may “mitigate against the potential for redundancy,” adding: “It is regrettable that during such a process such as this some jobs may be at risk.

“We will do everything we can to avoid redundancy wherever possible.

“However, in line with all public services we have to live within our means.”

While Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the NUT said it was difficult for him to comment on the school but said: “It doesn’t surprise me that they are moving to make redundancies but I hope they can look at their finances again and find ways of not making staff redundant.”

He said other schools were facing redundancies, and added: “I have no wish to make anyone redundant but you have to look far and wide in terms of what cuts are possible and what are not possible. You have got to look at protecting frontline staff, which is teachers in front of pupils.

“I think in very general terms if you have fewer teachers in a school results are unlikely to improve.

“If you have fewer teaching assistants and support staff those vulnerable pupils will not get the support they need.

“If you want to improve education in Suffolk and overall, pay teachers more, retain teachers and retain your support staff.

“The more staff you have at schools, the better the results are likely to be.

“Making cuts will not improve output.”

Yesterday the prime minister said direct extra funding should be provided to schools in sparsely populated areas after he was quizzed on the issue by a Suffolk MP.

James Cartlidge – the MP for South Suffolk – used prime minister’s questions to welcome the government announcement this week that it plans to shake up the way that schools are funded, which leaves Suffolk institutions worse off than their city counterparts.

Mr Cartlidge said: “Schools in South Suffolk were delighted this week to see the publication of the Government’s consultation on fairer funding.”

He said that the consultation focused on “core principles” and that it must be that rural schools faced “unique and unavoidable costs that are not well funded under the current formula”.

Responding in the House of Commons chamber David Cameron said: “It is right that we are examining the formula and trying to achieve better fairness. I think everyone can now see that the gap between the best-funded schools and the worst-funded schools has become too great. I also agree that it is vital that the specific needs of schools in rural areas are properly considered. That is why our consultation proposes that we should direct additional funding to small schools in sparsely populated areas.”

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