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19 jobs to go at City Academy Norwich

PUBLISHED: 17:06 05 March 2015 | UPDATED: 17:06 05 March 2015

City Academy Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

City Academy Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant

A struggling city academy has suffered a further blow after it revealed it is planning to cut 19 jobs because of financial pressures.

Dick Palmer, Group CEO Transforming Education in Norfolk. Picture: Denise BradleyDick Palmer, Group CEO Transforming Education in Norfolk. Picture: Denise Bradley

The news comes after two years in which City Academy Norwich recorded some of the worst GCSE results in the East of England, received an official government warning over its performance, and is having to re-pay hundreds of thousands of pounds of overpaid Department for Education grants.

The proposed job losses in 2015-16 are part of a £1.9m savings programme which could see 40 posts, including 29 teaching roles, go across the four Norfolk high schools run by the school’s sponsor, the Transforming Education in Norfolk (Ten) Group.

The group blamed a combination of local demographics and national funding changes, which include a 4pc increase in employer pension contributions in 2015-16, and a further 5.7pc rise in 2016-17.

The group’s other Norwich institutions - City College Norwich and the University Technical College Norfolk - are not affected by the job losses.

Dick Palmer, chairman of the Ten Group, said the job losses were “another challenge” for City Academy, which he said was “having a tough time”.

However, he said: “I’m really confident [new principal] Mary Sparrow is going to make a real difference there and we will see performance rise over the coming years, but it’s not had the best history recently because of the funding mistakes by the Department for Education.

“Because of our over-funding, we probably had more staff than we needed, so the challenge for us is to improve performance and quality of teaching, whilst having fewer staff at City Academy.

“That is possible. Mary Sparrow has experience of working in a school with forms of disadvantage and doing that with a staffing basis that is much more akin to what is going on here.”

He said that, on top of the demographic dip, City Academy was hit by the increasingly competitive education system in Norwich which last year saw a new free school, the Jane Austen College, open.

He said City Academy discovered in September that 12 children who had accepted places with it had instead decided to go elsewhere, costing it £50,000 of funding it had budgeted for.

However, he said the school would see the “light at the end of the tunnel” sooner than other, more rural, Ten Group schools, because of a forecast increase in pupil numbers starting in 2015-16 and continuing for nine years.

In parallel with the job losses, the Ten Group is planning curriculum changes in response to an increased government emphasis on academic rather than vocational subjects.

Click here to see a graphic showing forecast pupil numbers for Ten Group high schools over the next ten years (credit: Ten Group)

Do you have an education story? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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