Academy pay-offs total millions

30th January 2009 at 00:00
Revealed: huge sums spent by councils on redundancy packages for displaced staff

Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money has been spent on compensation packages for teachers whose jobs have been lost because of the introduction of academies.

This is the first time the cost and impact of paying off teachers who did not transfer to new academies has been revealed.

At least one council has warned it may stop its proposed academies as costs escalate. In London's Westminster, the local authority spent more than pound;1 million on redundancy payments. And in three others - Liverpool, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sandwell in the West Midlands - the bill has topped pound;500,000.

In Dudley in the West Midlands, there are fears that plans to turn three of its schools into two academies could lead to prohibitive overheads. Liz Walker, the authority's cabinet member for children's services, said: "The Government has moved the goalposts and made local authorities responsible for transfer of staff costs, redundancy costs, project management.

"The bill could be anything up to pound;3m at each academy.

"Originally the academy programme would have given us two rebuilds, funded by government. Now it isn't. We have a sponsor, Oasis, which is very good and very supportive already of the extended schools agenda. They are advertising for principal designates.

"We could work well with them, but I'm more and more concerned about the economic impact for the next generation of children.

"As a politician, I look at this and think, `What an unholy mess - I'm not going to commit my grandchildren's future in Dudley to this.'"

As former employers, local authorities are expected to pay some of the redundancy costs.

Pete Jackson, of the Anti Academies Alliance, said: "It's quite outrageous that local councils are expected to foot the bill for redundancies when perfectly good teachers are no longer needed because schools are turned into academies. Not only do we lose our schools but we have to pay for the privilege."

Academies themselves have also been expected to pay in some cases.

But central government has also paid bills to get rid of staff. In Westminster, pound;1,293,217 was paid out by the local authority to 54 staff when North Westminster Community School was replaced in 2006 by Westminster Academy.

In Sandwell, the Department for Children, Schools and Families met the full cost of pound;522,690, paid to 32 staff who took severeance and did not transfer from the three schools that became academies.

Liverpool City Council said the department paid out most of the pound;769,232 given to 39 staff who took voluntary severance payments from the two schools which merged to become North Liverpool Academy. The academy paid the rest.

In Salford, the pound;102,960 cost was split half and half.

More than Pounds 6m has been paid out in total - a hidden cost of the academies programme.

Authority - School Pounds redundancies

Westminster North Westminster Community School pound;1, 293,217 closed; replaced by Westminster and Paddington academies

Newcastle West Gate Community College closed; pound;891,983

upon Tyne replaced by Excelsior Academy

Liverpool Anfield and Breckfield comprehensives pound;769,233 closed; replaced by North Liverpool Academy

Sandwell George Salter High School replaced by pound;522,690 George Salter Collegiate Academy. Dartmouth High School replaced by Q3 Academy. Willingsworth High School replaced by RSA Academy

Lewisham Malory School replaced by Haberdashers' pound;424,868 Aske's Knights Academy. St Joseph's

Academy and Our Lady of Lourdes School replaced by St Matthew Academy

Merton Mitcham Vale replaced by St Mark's pound;384,891 Academy. Tamworth Manor replaced by Harris Academy Merton

Peterborough (1 academy) and Lincolnshire (3 academies) did not reply by `The TES' deadline; 24 authorities said severance payments have been made.

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