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More than 200 office roles could be provided by private sector
HUNDREDS of school jobs in Worcestershire have moved closer to being outsourced after council chiefs said it was the “best way forward”.
County Hall’s Tory leadership wants to hand over the roles of school support staff, potentially to the private sector.
The employees work in back office roles in areas like IT, finance, HR and administration, costing taxpayers upwards of £750,000 a year.
Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet has now agreed to start a six-week consultation period, garnering the views of headteachers and school staff, before making a decision.
Although the authority has refused to reveal the number of jobs which could be outsourced, unions say they believe it to be more than 200.
The council says the recent trend of schools reverting to academies has resulted in fewer demands on the staff but the costs remain high.
During a cabinet meeting, Councillor Liz Eyre, cabinet member for children and families, said changes in the education system meant the workload had also changed.
“The world of schools is changing rapidly, it’s been changing for some time and their levels of autonomy are becoming clearer and clearer,” she said.
“A lot of schools already do a lot of working together, they offer youth provision and, in some cases, community facilities to the wider community.
“We are encouraging them to take that extra step around the support services they receive. There will be a lot of engagement on this because this is just the start of the process, there is lots to be teased out.”
Councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for localism and communities, said: “I think this is a sensible way forward.
“With many schools now converting to academies, there comes a tipping point where this needs to be looked at.”
As your Worcester News revealed last month, union Unison has labelled it “disastrous” and says it is prepared to oppose the changes in principle.
A consultation has now launched with schools, which will ask them about the level and standard of service currently provided and their thoughts on hiving it out. A report is then expected to be published in December outlining the future plans.