Education staff facing job losses

Wiltshire Council has announced plans to cut at least 18 jobs from its education department.

The council’s senior director for schools and learning, Stephanie Denovan, outlined plans at a briefing for staff at Trowbridge Civic Centre last week, with 129 people being considered at risk and given the option to take voluntary redundancy.

Wiltshire Council expects to lose around £3m in funding for education when its budget is confirmed in March.

It has made around £2.4m in cuts, but insists redundancies are needed to make up the shortfall.

“It is very hard to be specific at this stage but we are looking at around 18-20 full time equivalent redundancies,” said Mrs Denovan.

“I don’t want to lose anyone as I’ve worked here for a number of years, built up some really good teams and value the staff.

“For those leaving us, we will do everything we can to support them with their future opportunities as they have all done very well representing Wiltshire.”

None of the staff at risk are teachers but they do work in early years, primary, secondary, post-14 and adult education, with administrative staff also in danger.

Staff have been asked to consider voluntary redundancy, with a deadline of February 1 for any applications.

A reduction in Government funding and more schools across the region becoming academies, allowing them to control their own finances, have been noted as factors that have led to the redundancies.

Mrs Denovan said: “Academies are one part of it but it is not as simple as that, because every academy in Wiltshire still buys back some services from Wiltshire Council.

“Look at HMV going one day and Blockbuster the next – we live in difficult economic times. It is a culmination of the financial state of this country and that people prefer money put into preventative care for children and adults. This news was probably not unexpected by many in the room.”

Staff met Mrs Denovan and other representatives for about an hour at the Civic Centre last week and were given information packs to take away.

Lead advisor Dr Tom Robson, who has worked for Wiltshire Council for 20 years, said: “For most people it is quite an emotional situation and a very difficult outcome.

“I have to say the council is a superb organisation and one of the best around, and I know this is a decision not taken lightly but it has a big effect on all of us.”

There will be a 90-day consultation period and the council will take further action once it knows whether any staff want to take voluntary redundancy and once the budget has been finalised.

Wiltshire Council’s head of school improvement, Julie Cathcart, said: “If people do have any alternative suggestions we invite them to comeback to us and discuss them.

“Obviously if come March we suddenly find we have an extra £1m available we can pull redundancies, but that is unlikely.”

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