30 staff face redundancy at new academy

STAFF at the new William Parker Academy are facing a bleak Christmas after announcing yesterday (Thursday) it is axing 30 jobs due to a £500,000 deficit in its budget.

It is a hammer blow to the renamed and rebranded seat of education as it sets about trying to rebuild its fortunes following last year’s damning Ofsted report which placed it in special measures.

No teaching jobs will be lost as the axe falls on support and admin staff.

The losses are being blamed on a shortfall in year seven numbers this year which dropped to 130. The normal intake is 240.

New headteacher Mark Phillips, who took over the reins at the Parkstone Road school in September, said: “This is a difficult situation for everyone involved and we are doing everything we can to support our staff and make sure they have access to legal and financial advice, as well as welfare support and retraining as and when they need.

“Wherever possible, we will aim to redeploy staff or seek voluntary redundancies but the priority now is to make sure staff are supported and that the quality of education at the school is unaffected.

“A full consultation involving staff and trade unions will now take place to ensure the process is as fair as possible and members of staff are fully supported.

“Like all schools, ARK William Parker is funded on a per student basis and numbers have fallen from this year seven’s cohort by nearly half. This year we have only 130 children in year seven.

“That means we have to take some tough decisions to ensure we are running an efficient school offering the best education possible for our students. Student achievement and the welfare of students are our top priorities.”

Mr Phillips met with staff on Tuesday (December 10) to announce the news.

The school, formerly called William Parker Sports College, is reducing the number of administrative and support roles from 88 to 58.

The news comes just three months after the academy came into existence.

William Parker received a damning Ofsted report in November last year branding it ‘inadequate’.

It cited inadequacies in key areas including teaching, student attainment, and behaviour. The boys’ secondary school was then placed in special measures in January, leading to the decision of the governing body to apply for academy status.

This year 38 per cent of students at William Parker got five GCSEs at grades A* to C, including maths and English. In 2012 the rate was 33 per cent, and in 2011, 53 per cent.

A spokesman for ARK Schools, an organisation that runs 27 academies, including William Parker, said falling student numbers have had a ‘significant impact’ on the school budget.

“The predecessor school was carrying a structural deficit of approximately £200,000. With the loss of additional grants and falling student numbers, the academy anticipates a deficit of more than £500,000 for the academic year 2013/14,” he added.