Huge numbers of school staff could be axed or have their hours slashed as county schools continue to be hammered by cuts.

As the new financial year begins and Dorset schools struggle to balance the books, the National Education Union (NEU) has warned this year could be a particularly bad year for redundancies – with the situation only set to get worse.

NEU local community member, Geoff Cooke said: "Unfortunately it's not unusual this time of year. A lot of schools are looking to future budgets and are having to try and restructure and declare redundancies."

Mr Cooke added redundancies were increasing year on year and a 'huge number' of staff could potentially lose jobs or have hours cut.

According to the NEU, by 2022, Dorset schools will have a funding short fall of more than £4 million.

Several schools are already known to have triggered redundancy procedures.

Atlantic Academy has announced it may have to cut 23 support staff due to mounting financial pressures.

Jonathan Heap, principal of Atlantic Academy said 'difficult decisions' were having to be made to ensure the school had a 'sustainable financial position'.

Mr Heap said: "The Academy is having to operate in the context of a difficult fiscal climate that is a challenge to all schools' budgets.

"Measures have been proposed concerning support staff functions with a view to reducing legacy costs and establishing a support staff structure that would be more in line with other similar sized schools.

"Regrettably, the possibility of 23 job losses in the team of support staff is having to be considered. This equates to approximately 10 full-time equivalent positions and includes the possible non-renewal of short term temporary contracts. The loss of teaching posts is not contemplated."

Mr Heap added a consultation process was being progressed before final decisions were made.

Redundancy procedures had also been triggered at Dorchester Middle School (DMS) and it was thought one teacher would lose their job.

DMS headteacher, Caroline Dearden said: "Regrettably, the funding schools receive has not been matched to the costs of running a school or providing an inclusive education for pupils. The money to support pupils with additional needs has been cut and there has been no additional funding for public sector pay increases. Therefore, along with many other schools in the county, DMS will need to ensure that its provision can be afforded within the constraints of a shrinking budget.

"Every effort is being made to minimise the impact on pupils."


NEU south west regional secretary, Andy Woolley said the full extent of job losses would not be apparent until early June. 

He added as well as redundancies, many posts were not being refilled when staff left – leading to larger class sizes and higher work loads for teachers. 

Mr Woolley said due to mounting pressures, more teachers than expected were leaving the profession and fewer people were training to be teachers. 

“It’s a time bomb. The pressure is on this year more than previous years and unless something is done to address the situation, it will get worse year upon year,” he said. 

Alison Chown, divisional secretary for Dorset NEU said: “Costs have risen. There have also been increases in wages for support staff – which we think is brilliant – but it wasn’t fully funded by the government so schools have to find funding for that on top of rising costs. There’s no doubt funding is the tightest it’s ever been and there will be redundancies.

“The NEU calls for fair and full funding for all schools. Money spent on our children’s education is an investment for the future. Austerity is a political choice and not an economic necessity.”