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Striking staff from Great Cornard’s Pot Kiln Primary School, near Sudbury, present petition to Suffolk County Council in bid to stop job cuts

The battle to stop school support staff from losing their jobs is being taken directly to county councillors today, with the formal submission of a community-backed petition.

More than 600 signatures are set to be presented to Suffolk County Council this morning, in support of a campaign calling for planned lay-offs at Pot Kiln Primary School in Great Cornard to be scrapped.

A demonstration against the redundancies will take place outside the authority’s headquarters in Ipswich prior to the handover, with featured speakers including Unison regional secretary Tim Roberts and former Ipswich Labour MP Sandy Martin.

Pot Kiln Primary School staff were protesting on Monday morning against planned job cuts Picture: Mecha Morton
Pot Kiln Primary School staff were protesting on Monday morning against planned job cuts Picture: Mecha Morton

Staff are also holding their third day of strike action in Great Cornard today, following two 24-hour walkouts at the end of April, in solidarity with the 10 classroom assistants and midday supervisors at Pot Kiln who are set to become unemployed.

The reduction to staff numbers was announced earlier this year, in response to the Butt Road school’s reported unforeseen budget deficit of £75,000, and a projected eight per cent decline in pupil enrollment over the next four years.

However, Unison organisers described the cuts as “totally disproportionate” to this financial shortfall, and argue that they would negatively impact the significant number of students with special educational needs.

The trade union has requested that the school bring in conciliation service Acas to help facilitate talks, warning that further strikes will be called unless progress is made on retaining staff.

Winston Dorsett, Unison’s eastern regional organiser, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the level of support shown by parents and members of the public during the strikes so far.

“Parents of children with special educational needs, whose kids are set to lose vital one-to-one support next year, have told us they’re fully behind the strike to save jobs, and many students have made it clear they don’t want to see staff go.

“But staff don’t want to be taking action – they want to be supporting children to learn. It’s vital the school and council listen to parents’ pleas and save these jobs.”

Leaders at Pot Kiln Primary School have previously acknowledged the level of support for the industrial action and, along with Suffolk County Council, pledged to work with interested parties on a resolution.