Council misleads public over Learning Support Services

Brighton and Hove Unison is happy to share this open letter to councillors from our NUT colleagues. 

Here is the open letter sent to all Brighton and Hove councillors yesterday by the Larning Support Services’ National Union of Teachers’ representatives. It is an open letter; thus it is in the public domain and can be shared.
Dear Councillor,
We are writing to you as representatives of Brighton and Hove’s National Union of Teachers. The proposed redesign of the Learning Support Services was discussed at last night’s full council meeting.
We watched the webcast of the full council meeting last night. In response to a question from a Brighton and Hove resident, and in response to the petition of Sadie Gillett, representing the teaching staff of the Learning Support Services, on the redesign of the Learning Support Services, Tom Bewick made a claim that there was only a reduction in staffing from 58 to 55 staff in the proposed service redesign and he denied that there were cuts to the numbers of teachers. The figures he quoted arise from including the non-teaching staff from previously separate teams, who have now been added in to the previous Learning Support Services teams of teachers, in the proposed redesign of the Learning Support Services. Thus Tom Bewick’s comments completely misrepresented what is actually happening to the numbers of teachers, which is what the petition was about.
Here are some quotes from the original statutory consultation document produced by Brighton and Hove City Council, dated October 2015 

(‘Educational Psychology and Learning Support Services Consultation Paper):
p.5 “There will be financial savings as part of this proposed redesigned services”.
p. 9 “These proposals represent a significant reduction in staffing complement across the support services”
On p. 9-11 The proposal states that 21.4 FTE existing teachers’ posts will be deleted, with only 12.0 FTE new posts (ring-fenced to those who held the deleted posts) created in the new service, and 6.3 FTE existing senior teaching posts will be deleted, with only 2.0FTE new senior posts (ring-fenced to those who held the deleted posts) created in the new service.
As the consultation has progressed these proposal have been modified, as a result of discussions between the National Union of Teachers and council officers, however, the last communication that we received from officers still involves cuts to teachers’ posts, exactly as Sadie Gillett described in her speech: “This petition relates to the proposed redesign of our learning support services, in which the teams of Autism, Sensory Needs, PRESENS and Language are to be amalgamated into one “Learning and Communication” strand, with the Literacy Support Service now standing separately as a “traded service”. The new strand reduces the number of teacher level posts from 21 to 14, with no definite figures yet given for the Literacy Service, but a likelihood of a huge reduction here too”.
All of the teachers that have communicated with us during and since last night’s meeting have been completely shocked that Tom Bewick misled the council and thus the citizens of Brighton and Hove. All these teachers are shocked that the chair of the children, young people and skills committee either doesn’t know what the officers of the council are proposing or is choosing to misrepresent the truth.
Tom Bewick comments at the council meeting last night seem all the more strange in the light of his press release issued yesterday, 
in he which he stated “We currently have 19 specialist SEN teachers working with children with all types of language and communication difficulties [this should say ‘learning and communication difficulties’]. In the new structure we are proposing to have 14 specialist SEND advisers instead”. Whilst these figures are wrong, as the most recent communication from officers to staff indicates a reduction of 21 posts to 14, this press release clearly states that there are cuts to the number of teachers; although bizarrely he then contradicts in this press release what he previously said by saying “There are no proposals to cut any teaching or nursery support staff”, and he then contradicted his (incorrect) acknowledgement that 21 posts are being reduced to 14 in the council meeting.
Councillor Bewick also stated that there were no cuts to levels of pay for teachers. Currently, a full time teacher at Upper Pay Scale Point 3, with an SEN point would earn £39,935 per annum. This would be the salary level for many teaching staff in the current service. If given a Soulbury pay scale point 4 (the highest currently on offer), the salary would be £36,865. This is clearly a pay cut (of £3070, or 7.7%). Additionally, staff would be contracted to work 37, rather than 32.4 hours per week, for 44, rather than 39 weeks per year.
This misrepresentation of the truth is a really serious matter pertaining to the probity of the council. The statements that Tom Bewick have made have led to all the teachers that we know in the Learning Support Services having little faith in the capacity of the council to be honest about what is happening to public sector services in Brighton and Hove.
We would like you to inform us as to what actions you are going to take to ensure that the public are not misinformed about the redesign of the Learning Support Services at future council meetings.
Yours sincerely,

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