GMB call for resolution to Grange Federation management chaos

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GMB, the trade union for school support staff has called upon Swindon Borough Council to urgently step in to resolve chaotic management at Grange Federation in Swindon.

Grange Infant School and Grange Junior School are both Swindon Borough Council Schools, and have been made into a Federation of the two schools. The modestly sized schools with a total of 84 staff, including 28 teachers and 29 teaching assistants, have three head teachers and a business manager. This means that per pupil, the Grange Federation has amongst the highest management costs in Swindon.

GMB Regional Organiser, Carole Vallelly said: “The school administration is in chaos. Every month the payroll goes wrong, with staff regularly paid the wrong amount, this month one staff member was even paid someone else’s salary. Staff have either not been given contracts, or given the wrong contracts, and some don’t have job descriptions for their duties.

“Very alarmingly, parents may be surprised to learn that several lessons each week are taught by Teaching Assistants, with no teacher in the classroom. GMB have challenged this, as we believe that the school is acting outside of the Department of Education’s guidance, because such arrangements are not supposed to be permanent, and the teaching assistants are supposed to be acting under the direction of a teacher. In this case, the arrangement is permanent, and the “direction” from a teacher is utterly inadequate, with notes being passed to unprepared teaching assistants literally just a few minutes before they step into the classroom. How are the schools able to afford additional levels of management, but not able to afford a professional teacher in every classroom?

“GMB has been patiently trying to resolve these matters behind the scenes by talking to Swindon Borough Council’s HR department, and we have been reportedly reassured that all the problems have been resolved, Yet each time we are told that the problems are solved, they all reoccur again. Our members are professional and dedicated staff, who just want to get on with the task of educating the pupils, yet they are at the end of their tether with all the nonsense. Staff are also exasperated with the rudeness that they are expected to put up with from some managers.

“Grange Federation has now told staff that they are starting the process of joining a Multi Academy Trust, yet trade unions were not invited to the meeting, and were not consulted. GMB is very concerned about this, because for all the current chaos, as long as they are Swindon Borough Council Schools, the management are accountable, not only to the council officers, but to the elected councillors. As soon as they become part of an Academy, then they are accountable to no one, and the disproportionate management costs will be put beyond challenge.

GMB believes that it is necessary for Swindon Borough Council to take urgent action.”

Contact: Carole Vallelly on 07912181476 or or GMB Press Office 07970 114762