Leaders doing ‘everything in power' to avoid compulsory redundancies at Sheffield school which plans to close sixth form

The leaders of a secondary school in Sheffield say they are doing everything in their power to avoid 'compulsory redundancies’ following a decision to close to some pupils later this month.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 2:49 pm

Bosses at Bradfield School set out proposals to close their sixth form, blaming the ‘drastic and regrettable’ move on a lack of funding and difficulties in recruiting enough students.

Following the move members of the National Education Union at the school voted in favour of strike action on Wednesday, March 27 in a dispute over a staffing restructure which ‘may lead to compulsory redundancies’.

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Staff at the secondary school said they are walking out in an attempt to prevent 15 teachers losing their jobs.

Union officials said they were concerned about what they say is ‘poor financial management’ that has ‘jeopardised both the education of youngsters and livelihoods of teachers’.

Now, in a joint statement released on behalf of the governors and leadership team, Bradfield School said they are doing everything in their power to avoid the compulsory redundancies as they work with unions to avoid strike action.

The statement said: “The current funding in education is leading to some very difficult decisions across the country. Funding for post-16 education is particularly difficult.

“Following years of low admission into the Bradfield School sixth form, governors have made the difficult decision to close the sixth form to future students in order to ensure financial stability moving forward.

“This will enable Bradfield School to continue on its journey to improve outcomes for 11-16 students. Inevitably, this means that we have to reduce staffing as we no longer require sixth form teaching.

“We are doing everything within our power to avoid compulsory redundancies and understand this is a very difficult time for staff at the school. We will continue to support them through this very difficult process and remain committed to working with the unions to avoid strike action.”

Bradfield was deemed to ‘require improvement’ at its last Ofsted inspection in 2017, which came shortly after the school reported disappointing exam results.

Governors say the school has overspent, bringing about a recovery in standards, but that it is likely to end the current academic year deep in the red with a budget deficit of more than £800,000.

The average number of students enrolled at Bradfield’s sixth form has stood at 147 since 2014, when guidance says places with fewer than 300 students struggle to be viable.

It began taking 16 to 19-year-olds in 2013 following a community campaign and offers 23 A-level courses, but has never achieved its ambition of building a dedicated sixth form block, leading students to choose rival schools and colleges with dedicated facilities such as dining spaces and common rooms.

The intention is to keep the school open for sixth form and Year 11 during the strike, but will be closed for Years 7 to 11.