Academy trusts spent millions more getting rid of staff in 2015-16 than in the previous year, a TES analysis suggests.
Analysis of the accounts of a sample of high-profile trusts indicates that the increased redundancy and severance costs were often linked to financial pressures, with trusts shedding staff to stick within tight budgets.
Many of the 20 trusts TES looked at increased the amount they spent on "staff restructuring" in 2015-16. Of the 15 that published this information, such costs rose in 10 and only fell in five.
The biggest spender overall was Ormiston Academies Trust, which spent £1,423,000 in 2015-16, compared with £855,000 the year before.
The largest increase in staff restructuring costs was for Wakefield City Academies Trust, which spent nothing on redundancy and severance payments in 2014-15 but £843,000 in 2015-16.
'Committed to treating staff fairly'
The biggest proportional increase in restructuring spend was for GLF Schools, which had a fivefold increase from £52,000 to £260,000. The trust said: "We are committed to treating our present and former staff fairly and with integrity when funding pressure leaves schools with no option but to reorganise."
The extra money spent on staff restructuring at Oasis also seemed to be connected to financial pressure. Oasis Academy Lister Park had a deficit of £1,078,000 – the biggest in the trust – and spent £411,000 on restructuring over two years.
Oasis, which spent a total of £1,363,000 on staff restructuring in 2015-16, also had the largest individual payout, with one member of staff receiving £49,500 in severance pay.
However, there were some trusts that decreased their redundancy and severance spending compared with 2014-15.
For example the Academies Enterprise Trust saw its spend on staff restructuring fall from £1,666,000 in 2014-15 to £1,400,000 in 2015-16.
This is an edited article from the 3 February edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click here. This week's TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here.
Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook