Teaching jobs set to be axed in Suffolk
DOZENS of teaching jobs are to be axed at up to 20 schools across Suffolk because of falling pupil numbers, it has been revealed. The EADT has been told that at least 37 teachers and six non-teaching members of staff at schools in the county will be made redundant by the start of next term.
DOZENS of teaching jobs are to be axed at up to 20 schools across Suffolk because of falling pupil numbers, it has been revealed.
The EADT has been told that at least 37 teachers and six non-teaching members of staff at schools in the county will be made redundant by the start of next term.
Many of the cuts are taking place at schools in the most rural areas of the county where pupil numbers have significantly declined. One school is set to lose five posts through dwindling rolls.
Union officials now fear the "worrying" situation could affect the quality of education as each of the schools affected is left with a smaller pool of specialised teachers.
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They are also concerned the job cuts will put the remaining staff under greater pressure.
Suffolk County Council has confirmed redundancies are taking place at three high schools, four middle schools and 11 primary schools in the county, but it is believed there may be more cuts to come before the start of the next school year.
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Pupil numbers have fallen by more than 500 across Suffolk in the past year, and the drop is partially being blamed on a lack of housing developments in rural areas.
But the council said the issue was not just confined to the most rural areas, and reflected a nationwide trend of a reduction in the population birth rate.
Martin Goold, Suffolk secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: "There are a number of schools across Suffolk where redundancy notices have been served.
"In most cases this is due to dwindling pupil numbers. There has been a reduction in the number of primary age pupils in Suffolk and this is set to continue for the next few years.
"These cuts are not uniform across the county – councils usually build schools near large housing estates and when new young families move in, the school pupil numbers are high.
"In rural areas there has not been much development, so there are less young people growing up and that is why there is a decline in pupil numbers."
He added: "Due to the redundancies many of the schools will not have the correct mix of specialised teachers, which in some cases means staff will be requested to teach in areas outside their specialist subjects.
"The cuts will also have an effect on the workload of the remaining teachers and put them under extra pressure."
Great Cornard Upper School, near Sudbury, has confirmed it is losing five teaching positions through voluntary redundancies after a drop in pupil numbers from 859 to 806 in the past year.
Headteacher Mike Foley said: "There will be absolutely no change in terms of the running of the school, class sizes or how the children are taught. If there are fewer pupils then we need fewer teachers.
"There has been a lack of major developments in this area, which has effected [the number of] pupils coming here, and there are also less school age children in villages such as Lavenham that fall within our catchment area.
He added: "It may sound remarkable, but it is quite possibly our numbers will rise again in the next few years because a number of developments are due to take place and if that is the case we could well be recruiting again."
Jan Parsons, headteacher at the nearby Pot Kiln Primary School, which is losing one teacher due to a reduction in pupil numbers, said: "It is a concern because the population in our catchment area is growing older.
"The knock-on effect is that each year we are getting less and less pupils and, if it keeps going as it is, we will not have the same number of classes as we have now."
Suffolk County Council said the number of school pupils enrolling in Suffolk had fallen from 96,474 to 95,952 in the past year – a reduction of 522.
But a council spokesman said there was growth in pupil numbers in certain areas of the county that could see teaching posts being created over the next two years.
"For example, a new 150 place primary school in Bury St Edmunds will open in September and new primary schools will open in Stowmarket and Rendlesham – these new schools could create up to 40 new jobs," he added.