STATEMENT FROM SOUTH BANK MULTI ACADEMY TRUST
24 March 2023
Ian Wiggins, Chair of Trustees at South Bank Multi Academy Trust (SBMAT) said “For the whole South Bank community, our priority is to deliver the best possible education for the children in our Trust, and to keep them safe and happy. The Board and I are in full support of the direction our schools and central team are taking and are delighted with recent successes and developments over the past year.
“We know from feedback that the vast majority of parents, pupils and colleagues are really happy with the education and care our schools provide. However, we also know that not every decision schools make will be popular with the whole community. All decisions and changes are made with care, and are based on the deep experience and knowledge of the expert staff in our schools, central team and external partners. Importantly, all decisions are made in the very best interests of our children.
“Our schools’ individuality is really important to us, and operational decision-making, rightly, rests with our schools and headteachers. To continue to provide all that we can for the children in our schools and for our communities, we have also had to make some difficult Trust wide decisions on personnel matters. These kinds of issues – looking at equity of pay or terms and conditions – will always need to be Trust wide decisions as they affect all schools in our Trust; all these decisions have been discussed thoroughly by Trustees and have had the full backing of the board.
“Feedback is really important, and we’ve recently written to some parent groups to highlight the communication channels and feedback mechanisms for each of our schools. I would encourage all parents and carers to use these to raise any questions they have, and if they can, to visit their schools to see them in action. I know from the time I have spent in our schools that anyone visiting will see the reality of our schools which are warm, welcoming and safe places in which to teach and learn and a very long way from the draconian institutes which are being portrayed on social media.
“Once again, we would like to reiterate that all of our schools are unique and operational decision-making rests with our schools and headteachers.”
SBMAT can confirm that following the support staff consultation which took place to ensure that all staff across the Trust are paid for the hours and weeks they work (plus their holiday entitlement). These changes to contracts for some of our staff bring them in-line with the majority of contracts in the Trust and with the majority of schools and trusts across the country.
Following these consultations, some support staff have signed their new contracts, a small number have chosen to not yet sign their new contracts and a small number have decided to leave SBMAT. Where vacancies arose, we immediately began a process to recruit skilled, experienced members of staff.
Individual meetings with those members of support staff who have not yet signed their contracts will take place next week to offer further support and discuss next steps. We have also offered all affected staff a period of pay protection to manage the impact on our colleagues.
Whilst there has been no change to the number of SEN posts throughout the Trust, we fully understand that even small changes in personnel can be challenging for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and as a Trust, we are doing everything we can to ease any transitions. Our schools have dedicated teams of staff who work closely with children with SEND and their families, and we have recently appointed a Trust lead for SEND and Safeguarding to help us further enhance our work and expertise in this area.