The BBC has reported that the head teachers of every state school in West Sussex have written to Theresa May warning of a funding crisis. The letter highlights that the crisis could force schools to restructure their staff - which could mean changing working hours and possibly making redundancies.
If schools are forced to restructure there is scope for the process going wrong which could lead to expensive employment claims - and in doing so would undermine the reason for restructuring in the first place. So, what steps can schools take to reduce the risks of restructuring? Here are 5 tips:
1. Plan the process carefully
It is crucial to plan the process carefully from the outset. Remember to build in ample time to allow consultation and remember to check notice periods. For most teachers, schools have to give notice of the redundancy the half term before the redundancy is to take effect.
2. Have meaningful consultation
Consultation would involve individual meetings with staff members and depending on the numbers involved, could also include collective consultation with unions/ elected representatives of affected staff.
There must be genuine consultation with staff. There will be cases where staff can make a valuable contribution to the proposed changes which could impact the process.
3. Will the restructuring really save costs?
Do your homework. Check whether you have a policy which provides for enhanced redundancy pay.
And don't get caught out by pensions. Remember, if members of the LGPS are made redundant who are 55 or older this will be an additional cost you will have to pay.
4. Does your funding agreement help?
If you have converted to academy status then you may have some help from the EFA. Depending on the circumstances, the agreement may include a clause that the EFA will help fund some of the costs of your restructure. Check the terms of the agreement carefully to ensure you comply with any notice requirements to the EFA.
5. Work with your unions
A strong working relationship with any recognised union cannot be underestimated. This is not only a legal requirement in relation to collective redundancies, but engaging with the union representatives early in the process can be hugely beneficial in identifying and dealing with concerns as the process progresses.
Heads go to Downing Street with 'dire' funding warning