When Ofsted produced its report on Springwood Primary last December it was pretty scathing, declaring that the school `required improvement', particularly in its standard of teaching.
When Ofsted went back for a follow up visit last month it reported that "morale and confidence of teachers, especially those in positions of responsibility, is said to be improving" and that a review of the organisation of the school was underway. Staff and parents have now seen the results of the review and are not happy.
The equivalent of 7.5 support staff who work closely with some of the most vulnerable children in Salford are to be axed, along with other changes to the school day and school transport staffing.
Ofsted reported in February that "Hard decisions about staffing levels are anticipated as the school is approaching an unsustainable financial position".
But trade unions and parents are furious that staff working with the children are to be cut while, they understand, the school has a full time Finance Manager, four Assistant Heads…and the Business Manager is about to be made full time.
A joint statement from Diane Ogg, Assistant Branch Secretary, Salford City UNISON and Steve Noble, GMB, slates the school's attitude…
"Targeted cuts make every child a loser and the vulnerable children of the school will bear the brunt of this proposal if allowed to go through unopposed. This proposal needs scrapping and sending right back to where it came from. Parents should be concerned about these potential changes as to what detrimental effect it could have on their children.
"The service at this school has to be retained, it is critical for the development of the children not to lose vital staff who provide an extremely specialised and important service which will not be replaced.
"So a decision has to be made against the threat of any changes and support these young people who suffer severe behavioural and physical conditions. It is not too much to ask? Education is everyone's human right, even those who cannot speak for themselves."
Diane Ogg adds that the cuts at the school are not about improving teaching or what is best for the children… "These cuts are financially driven, the latest Ofsted report makes no reference to cutting jobs. We have to ask the question 'Why always are the most vulnerable children affected'?
"Clearly a loss of jobs will have a negative impact both on morale and the quality of service provided to these deserving children" she adds "We urge the public to join with our members and the unions to get the governor's to re-consider…Every child matters – don't they?"
Springwood Primary School Headteacher, Lesley Roberts, wouldn't comment on making the School's Business Manager full time, or on the full time Finance Manager and four Assistant Heads, but told the Salford Star… "We are nearing the end of a consultation period, looking at options to restructure all levels of staff, as recommended to us by our latest Ofsted report.
"The school governors are in full support of this approach which looks to rearrange the number of staff whilst actually enhancing the quality of education we provide" she added "Any changes made will not have a negative impact on the pupil's education, with the current proposal looking at reducing 7.5 equivalent support posts from the 119 staff.
"We already have 21 firm applications for voluntary retirement or severance, which means there won't be any compulsory redundancies. All unions have been fully included in the consultation alongside support from the council's human resources which is offering support around voluntary severance options."
The Star also asked John Merry, Salford Council's Assistant Mayor for Children and Young People, for a comment but he didn't respond.
There was to be a Public Meeting Against Springwood Primary School Cuts
this Saturday 23rd March but it has now been postponed. As soon as we have details of a future date we will print them.
To read the Ofsted reports – click here
UPDATE: 2:30pm 22nd March - `Untruths and Misinformation'
Without answering specific questions that the Salford Star asked him, John Merry has sent over a letter that was also handed out to parents and carers of children at the school.
In the letter, John Merry refers to "untruths and misinformation" being circulated about Springwood, without giving any specific examples.
It appears that the Mayor and his Assistant Mayors are jumping into George Orwell's 1984...with every uttering in Salford branded `untruths and misinformation', apart from what Salford Council and its representatives judge to be otherwise (see previous Salford Star article for more examples - click here)
Here's the letter...
I am increasingly concerned about some untruths and misinformation that is being circulated about Springwood Special School.
Springwood has a very important role in providing the very best education for children who have a wide range of special needs and additional requirements.
The council and governing body are in full support of the head teacher in making changes to move the school towards becoming outstanding.
In October 2012 the school was inspected by Ofsted and was judged as requiring improvement. Under previous and less demanding inspections this would have meant the school was satisfactory.
However, we recognise with the governing body and headteacher, that there are some major areas to improve and the school leadership are working really hard to achieve this.
This is being supported by regular follow up visits by Ofsted, council officers and outstanding school leaders from other areas. There is a comprehensive improvement plan and support team in place to ensure the children in Springwood get the very best education going forward.
The Ofsted report was very clear about the changes that need to be made for Springwood to move forward finding that “a very small group of staff are set in their ways and resist change; this and high staff absence, is getting in the way of faster improvement.”
We have to support the school in making these changes, as the Ofsted report identifies, and cannot shirk our responsibilities here.
I am confident that the steps being put in place by the governing body and head teacher will provide the necessary structures to move the school to becoming outstanding for our Springwood children. Nothing less will do.