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Sheffield school in jobs sell-off row

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Plans to privatise non-teaching jobs at a Sheffield academy are being attacked by unions who claim profits are being put before pupils.

Firth Park School became part of a nationwide chain of 79 academies last summer which are run by AET, Academies Enterprise Trust.

The trust also runs four primary schools in Barnsley and is the largest academy sponsor in the country.

AET is seeking to outsource most of its non-teaching roles to private companies in a 10-year deal which could be worth up to £400 million.

The unprecedented move would affect school business managers, librarians and IT staff as well as a range of back office positions such as personnel, finance and secretaries.

Headteachers, teachers and teaching assistants would be the only roles not affected by the move.

Unison and GMB are leading opposition to the proposals, saying taxpayers’ cash meant to be funding education will instead be used create profits for the private sector.

Jon Richards, Unison’s head of education, said the involvement of private companies would mean cutbacks.

“This move to effectively remove the control of most of the school from headteachers and to put profits before pupils is a dangerous decision, and we are urging AET to stop this privatisation process,” Mr Richards said.

AET said it had a duty to show value for money when it came to taxpayers’ money, adding the proposed changes would not impact on the ability of heads to run their schools.

 

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