New service shake-up signals loss of 21 jobs

THE council expects to save £755,000 a year by reorganising school-improvement services and getting rid of 21 members of staff.

Most work at Heath Training Centre, in Free School Lane, Halifax, which the council is planning to sell to help pay for a new library.

Staff were warned about potential redundancies just days before Christmas.

The savings have been revealed in the Lib-Lab coalition’s draft budget, which has now gone out to public consultation.

Changes to school improvement work stem from the Government’s desire to encourage groups of schools to work together supported by national and local “Leaders in Education.”

“This model places responsibility for school improvement with recognised school consortia and as such removes the need for the local authority to maintain a bespoke school improvement service,” according to Calderdale Council.

The increasing number of academies, which have total control over their business and budgets, is also leading to a cut in council funding for such services.

The Education Act which received Royal Assent in November removed the duty on local authorities to appoint an improvement partner for every school and places responsibility on schools supporting schools.

If the council’s draft budget is approved next month, a sector-led improvement scheme could be set up by September.

But the planned changes have attracted criticism from Calderdale branch of the National Union of Teachers.

Secretary Sue McMahon said: “I don’t understand how the coalition can put forward a scheme which would prevent statutory duties being fulfilled.”

Council leaders agreed in December to sell the training centre, which used to house the former Heath Grammar School.

It has led to speculation that the older parts of the building might be converted into apartments and the remainder, including an extensive car park, could be used for retail development or even a petrol station.