Teacher protests over redundancy plan for Wrexham school

Reporter:

Matt Sims

TEACHERS at a Wrexham secondary school will go on strike as GCSE exams get under way this week in protest over potential redundancies.

NASUWT balloted its members after Wrexham Council announced eight posts at Darland High, in Rossett, were to be cut as part of a restructuring programme.

And 19 members have agreed to take strike action as year 11 pupils begin sitting their GCSE exams.

The local authority says the redundancies are necessary as the school attempts to plug a huge deficit in its budget, which stood at £291,005 in 2009/10.

Without further action, that would rise to nearly half a million pounds by the end of the financial year in 2011, the council says.

A number of non-teaching staff have already been made redundant, saving £78,000 a year.

Now a surplus of eight teaching posts – four part time and four full-time – have been identified.

Six of those eight teachers have appealed against the decision to axe their jobs and will find out later this week whether they have been successful.

NASUWT declared a trade dispute due to the ‘adverse impact of restructuring and potential job loss.’

A spokesman claimed teachers were paying the price for financial mismanagement that was no fault of their own.

John Davies, Wrexham Council’s chief learning and achievement officer, said a review of the school’s staffing structure had seen certain staff members appointed to ‘senior leadership posts’ to drive forward a new curriculum.

Those staff members were then exempt from being considered for redundancy while their colleagues were not, leading to NASUWT launching the ballot.

Mr Davies said: “Twelve months ago the union wanted the school to do that review of its structure and now it has been done they are not happy.”

He added everything was being done to ensure staff members were redeployed to other schools in the county.

The NASUWT ballot last week saw 19 members out of 23 voting to take strike action, with another two prepared to take industrial action – nearly half the school’s total teaching staff. Rex Phillips, NASUWT’s Welsh organiser, said: “It wasn’t the teaching staff and it wasn’t the pupils that caused the deficit, it was due to finances being mismanaged.

“We are very, very unhappy with the way the redundancy process is being managed. It is unfair.

“We had one group protected from redundancy and the others targetted.

“From our point of view the redundancies were entirely avoidable had the local authority allowed teachers to take their early retirement.

“Instead there is a situation where those who would have preferred early retirement will remain and those who wanted to stay have been made redundant.”

The school will be closed to pupils in years seven, eight, nine and 10 on Thursday, but those in year 11 sitting their GCSEs will be able to come in as normal.

See full story in the Leader

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