Anger has broken out as news breaks that the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust (DMAT) is considering a major staffing restructure which could see mass redundancies.

In a document seen by this newspaper, DMAT has said that 'budgetary, curriculum model changes and the need to provide the highest possible quality of education for all local children' have necessitated the change which could see mass redundancies and the number of teaching assistants and higher level teaching assistants employed by the trust reduced by nearly two-thirds.

But the proposed restructure could also see:

  • Teaching assistants limited to Reception and Key Stage 1 (Years One and Two) classes

  • Only three full time equivalent (FTE) higher level teaching assistant posts across the trust

  • A reduction in the number of teaching staff by 0.27 FTE

  • Reduced administration roles in schools as this work would be carried out in a centralised hub

  • No finance assistant role as no financial administration will take place in the secondary schools

  • A reduction in the number of technicians from 12.12 FTE to 4.3 FTE across the three secondary schools run by DMAT (Okehampton, Tavistock and Holsworthy). This would affect science, technology, creative arts and PE lessons.

  • The role of school improvement officer removed

  • The role of director of civic responsibility removed

However, the proposed restructuring would also see an increase in primary school leadership capacity and an increase in SENDCO (special educational needs and disabilities co-ordinator) provisions and the introduction of a health and safety lead. Furthermore, new members of staff and any employed by the trust after January 2018 will now have a mobility clause added to their employment contract.

An anonymous source said: 'The impact that that has is huge because when you think about the TAs for example, they cover things like playground break times, they oversee the lunch periods, they step in when the teacher needs to have additional time to prep for a particular subject.

'The additional pressures that are going to be placed on the teaching staff, particularly from children who have special needs, is going to be massive and the knock on effects of this is that teachers are going to end up leaving - they're completely stretched as it is. They have no bandwidth, there is no room available to them to take on the extra pressures and workloads that effectively are about to be thrust upon them so the end result of that is that basically the the children are going to be severely impacted in terms of their learning and the education.'

The document states education unions have been consulted on the matter and the trust is currently holding a 30-day consultation period, which excludes the Easter holidays, during which meetings with staff are being held with the opportunity for school staff to sign up for extra voluntary work or voluntary redundancy in the hope that this will reduce the overall number compulsory redundancies.

Afterwards, the trustees will meet to discuss comments made during the consultation period and make a final decision.

A spokesperson for DMAT, said: 'As of 27th March 2023, the Trust has entered into a formal consultation process to review proposals, approved by our Board of Trustees, to restructure our teaching and support staff models. These proposals have been developed in recognition of wider funding challenges, and with the intention to ensure our structures are fit for purpose, meet the needs of our staff, and provide our students with the best possible educational experience. More so, these proposals are being explored to inform our ability to maintain our smaller schools, in particular, and ensure their long-term viability.

'We entirely understand and appreciate the concern this may cause. All proposed changes – the majority of which would influence our primary schools – are subject to the outcome of this consultation process, and we will be meeting with all potentially affected staff, alongside our recognised unions, to thoroughly discuss these proposals and explore any alternatives. No final decisions on this matter have been made, and we therefore believe it would be inappropriate to speculate further.

'Trust leaders introduced the consultation to potentially impacted staff earlier in the week. Those who may be affected will have multiple opportunities to discuss their individual circumstances at length, including with senior leaders, as part of the ongoing consultation process. The trust and its leaders are wholly committed to approaching these talks in a constructive and open manner.'