Unions claim caretaker cuts at UK’s largest MAT ‘will put pupils at risk’

Eight unions claim Academies Enterprise Trust is pursuing 'dangerous' plans to cut caretaker staff

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Cuts to caretaker staff at the UK’s largest multi-academy trust are “dangerous” and will “put pupils at risk”, education unions have warned.

Eight unions have released a joint press release criticising Academies Enterprise Trust, which runs 66 schools across the country.

According to the unions, the chain is planning to cut £1.4 million from its schools’ estates budgets, resulting in at least 34 redundancies.

The unions involved are GMB, Unison, Unite, the NUT, the ATL, the NAHT, the Association of School and College Leaders and the NASUWT.

They claim that one school will lose two-thirds of its site staff, with others losing 50 per of their caretakers.

The unions say that AET has yet to provide them with a health and safety risk assessment of the plans.

They also claim that the MAT is proposing to take the management of site staff and estates budgets away from schools – a move which they say will “undermine the ability of individual heads and principals to make urgent decisions in the best interests of their pupils and staff”.

The unions called on AET to "halt the plan immediately in favour of genuine consultation".

'Unnaceptable' proposals

Sharon Wilde, GMB’s national officer for schools, said the proposals were “putting children at risk”.

"AET must immediately halt this dangerous scheme in favour of a proper period of genuine consultation with schools, staff and parents,” she said.

Jon Richards, Unison’s head of education, added: "For schools to provide a safe environment for children, estates employees must be available on site around the clock.

“These cuts will mean lots of extra work for remaining staff, which will have a massive impact on what they are able to do.

“It will put pupils at risk."

Russell Hobby, the NAHT’s general secretary, warned the proposals “may have serious health and safety implications for pupils and staff”.

Chris Keates, the NASUWT’s general secretary, said: "It is unacceptable to compromise the health, safety and welfare of pupils and staff, and we believe that AET should radically rethink these proposals.”

AET has been contacted for comment.

The unions' warning follows a similar joint statement released by the eight unions last week threatening possible action against the David Ross Education Trust over plans to axe support staff.

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