Mother raises concerns over teaching assistant cutbacks at Hailsham academies

Susan Tennant at home with her children (Photo by Jon Rigby)
Susan Tennant at home with her children (Photo by Jon Rigby)

A mother has raised concerns after a number of teaching assistants were made redundant from two academies in Hailsham.

Susan Tennant, who has a daughter in Year 3 at White House Academy and another who was recently made redundant as a teaching assistant at Phoenix Academy, says parents fear the impact losing these jobs will have on children’s learning.

She said, “All of them are being made redundant, a lot of parents are upset about it. They are all being cut from KS1 and KS2.

“We’re talking about two schools with more than 50 per cent on free school meals and quite a few children with special needs. Some are already having trouble keeping up, are they going to be completely left behind?”

She said of her younger daughter, “I’m concerned about her and the people that are making these decisions aren’t even at the school.

“Schools get paid per pupil so if other, smaller, schools can manage to have teaching assistants then why can’t STEP?”

STEP Academy Trust took over Phoenix and Whitehouse in January 2017.

A spokesperson said, “Both schools faced significant challenges and a legacy of underinvestment and under performance. This legacy, in addition to the shared catchment area of the two schools, has resulted in low pupil numbers, resulting in around £200,000 of lost funding per year.”

A ‘creative staffing model’ is mitigating the risk that one of the schools would need to close, the spokesperson added. “A restructure was necessary and all staff affected either elected for voluntary redundancy or applied for one of the newly created roles. We have been as open as possible and have scheduled information sessions to answer any questions. The schools engage with our parent community daily, with a senior leader welcoming parents and addressing any concerns.”