Brantridge is a residential special school between Crawley and Haywards Heath, catering for boys with social, emotional and mental health difficulties, including those with Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD. Most pupils have also exhibited challenging behaviour in their previous schools.
It is part of the Orchard Hill College Academy Trust (OHCAT) and has experienced a falling roll in recent years. This and spending cuts have led school managers into a restructure focusing on the complete closure of its residential facilities.
Therefore, any staff whose job concentrated on this area of school life were at risk of being made redundant, including some staff whose own accommodation was provided as part of their employment package.
Managers wanted to move all residential care workers onto teaching assistant profiles, with a significant drop in salary. Though staff could have elected for redeployments within the trust, most other schools were outside the county.
UNISON officers examined the proposals. After our intervention, two new job descriptions were negotiated and agreed.
These profiles would be paid at a higher rate than a teaching assistant. The union also negotiated a one-year pay protection arrangement, not part of the original management proposals.
No staff have been made compulsorily redundant and others have accepted voluntary redundancy packages. However, managers wanted staff to sign settlement agreements which the union advised against, eventually winning the argument.