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Penrice Academy says 14 jobs are at risk

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: March 25, 2014

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THE head teacher of Penrice Academy has confirmed that 14 teaching assistants' jobs are at risk, as part of a restructure that will see the creation of nine specialist posts.

David Parker told the Cornish Guardian the nine specialist roles will be for people who have an understanding and knowledge of particular forms of special needs, such as dyslexia and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The new roles will replace the traditional teaching assistant model, which it has labelled as "not as effective".

Although the school said not all the staff whose jobs are labelled at risk will be made redundant, as they can apply for the new posts, the leaving date for those that are will be at end of the summer term.

However, although there will be fewer staff it was adamant the move was not a cost-saving measure, as the new roles will come with higher salaries.

Mr Parker said the academy spoke to the affected staff earlier this month.

"The new SEN Code of Practice, which starts in September 2014, makes it clear that students with special needs require high-level intervention and support.

"The new posts we have created are specialised posts which require a high level of understanding of special needs.

"Research evidence on the effectiveness of teaching assistants suggests that this is the right approach.

"The traditional model of teaching assistant support is not as effective and we are proposing to make it better at supporting children who have particular, highly complex conditions.

"The interest and needs of students with special needs are at the heart of what we are planning. The model of support is changing to make it better."

He said the move at Penrice Academy is being replicated in schools across the country.

"Most schools are either thinking about it or have done it and were are not in the vanguard or the rearguard on this one," Mr Parker added.

He told the Cornish Guardian that any staff who do not gain one of the nine new posts will receive a redundancy package, which is "more generous than the legal minimum".

In total the school employs around 35 staff in student support roles.

It has 160 staff and just under 1,400 students.

Brannel School, which already has a specialist, purpose-built facility for children with a range of learning needs or disabilities, confirmed it too is looking at a restructure of learning support assistants (LSAs) but without putting jobs at risks.

Andy Edmonds, told the Cornish Guardian the school was currently looking at how the 15-strong team of LSAs could be "more effective in their role", time management and further training.

Poltair School was unavailable to comment about if it was to make any changes to its structure at the time the paper went to press.

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