UNISON has today (Wednesday) welcomed a decision by the Ormiston Academies Trust to drop plans to cut jobs across England, which it was feared could put the safety and support of pupils at primary and secondary schools at risk.

The trust, which operates 38 schools across the country, had proposed cuts affecting up to 130 posts involving maintenance, caretaking and ICT (information and communications technology) roles. 

Employees at schools across the East of England, East Midlands, North West, South East, West Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside faced a range of changes to their jobs including redundancies, pay cuts and working across several locations.

The rethink will provide relief for the staff who had feared for their jobs, says UNISON. The union has been campaigning for the Trust to drop the plans amid concerns that not enough consideration had been given to the impact on the health, safety and welfare of children at the affected schools.

A spokesperson for the Ormiston Academies Trust said:

“We have been pleased with the level of engagement with the consultation we opened last month. We were always clear that we wanted to hear the views of all interested parties and that no decisions had been made. As a result, we have decided not to proceed with the proposals.

“As a well-run and financially responsible organisation privileged to serve 29,000 pupils, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, we will continue to invest in school improvement, teaching and learning, and our wider team, while being as efficient as ever.”

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said:

“It’s welcome news that the Ormiston trust has listened to staff and unions.

“The proposal to cut back on caretakers and other staff would have had a terrible impact on the health and safety of pupils and staff.

“We will continue to work with Ormiston to improve services without affecting children’s education by cutting jobs and resources.

“This decision sends a clear signal to those in government championing cuts and centralisation of support staff that the risks to pupils simply aren’t acceptable.”

Staff whose jobs were under threat include those responsible for maintenance emergencies, fire safety checks and ensuring fire alarms and escape routes are up to scratch. They also carry out building checks to make sure they’re safe and free of hazardous materials, such as asbestos.

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