Schools threatened by cutbacks as staff face 'losing hundreds a week'

Parents described school admin staff as 'unsung heroes' and warned job cuts and hours slashed will affect pupils' safety.

Cutbacks at primary schools in Moray have been met with anger from staff and parents.

The council is carrying out a consultation on proposed changes to the role of office staff in nursery and primary schools, which could see jobs cut, pay downgraded and hours slashed.

Council officers only consulted those directly affected in nursery and primary schools.

While details have been leaked to parents, elected councillors have not seen the document.

Moray Council leader Kathleen Robertson said: “It’s their decision. It’s within their delegated powers to be able to do so.

“But I would very much hope that if there’s any controversy or any issues that bubble up through the consultation, that it does come to elected members because it’s important that we, as representatives of the community, have a full understanding of the impact.”

School admin staff described as 'unsung heroes' by parents

There is growing frustration among staff and parents about potential cutbacks and the way the council has gone about the review.

However, the deepest concern is for the health and safety of some of the most vulnerable pupils.

Sophie McWhirter of Cluny Primary School Parent Council in Buckie, said: “We have parents whose children need blood-sugar levels checked, for instance, or medication at specific points in the day.

“And I’ve spoken to some staff members who have to set alarms on their personal phones seven.. eight.. ten times a day to remind them of when each individual child needs to be administered with that life-saving medication.”

In a statement, the council said the changes would result in savings, a simpler way to provide cover for absence and a reduction in routine admin tasks – but parents are not impressed.

James Hynam of Kinloss Primary School Parent Council said: “We’ve heard a lot about lowering attainment issues that have happened post-Covid and I think cutting the very hard work of unsung heroes such as the administration staff is a huge backward step.”

While the review is at an early stage, industrial action has not been ruled out.

Unison Moray official Karen Donaldson said: “A lot of our members will lose hundreds of pounds a week during a cost of living crisis, which is absolutely huge for anyone at this moment.

“We find school admin are pivotal and are glad of their services within schools. One of the other things we find is that they’re a safe place for children to go, they feel safe. This is going to impact on children.”

In a statement, the council said: “Administrative staff play a key role in the effective and efficient operation of our Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings and primary schools.

“Bringing together ELC and primary school administrative staff in a more resilient and sustainable business support structure seeks to enable new ways of working to be taken forward to address the challenges staff are experiencing and support them in delivering a more effective and sustainable service to pupils, families and colleagues.

“The proposed new line management and staffing structure would retain the benefits of the close working relationships within ELC settings and primary schools and deliver efficiency savings.

“Greater use of digital technology to complete task currently done manually, aims to support staff to manage their workload within their contracted hours.

“The proposed team structure would also make it easier to provide cover for staff absence and there would be a reduction in the amount of time spent by senior staff on routine administration tasks, freeing them up to undertake more complex work. Job descriptions would be reviewed to support recruitment and retention.”

The consultation ends on June 2.

It is understood Moray Council is planning a similar exercise next year involving staff in its high schools.

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