SPECIALIST teachers are being told they will no longer be able to teach children who need extra support due to cuts, the National Education Union (NEU) warned yesterday.
Unqualified teaching assistants are set to replace a special educational needs team employed by East Sussex Council after it issued the staff with new contracts.
In what has been branded a cost-cutting exercise and a deskilling of the service, highly qualified and experienced teachers will now only be employed to give advice to schools and class teachers.
But children with autism and speech and language difficulties have "acute" support needs, said Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NEU secretary Phil Clarke.
"We are very disappointed that the council management have refused to compromise at all over this,” he added.
"Our team members, many of whom currently teach children with special educational needs for most of the working week, have been willing to move to mainly advisory roles.
“We are however baffled as to why the council would move to contracts that mean these specialists cannot teach under any circumstances."
Following an internal ballot, members of the NEU who organise most of the affected team have agreed to support strike action against the changes but describe it as "absolutely a last resort."
Parents and teachers were urged to contact their local councillors about the issue in a bid to avoid industrial action.
Members of the team have put forward what they describe as a "flexible compromise," which they say the council has ignored, adding that it seems determined that the service will only offer direct support to children from staff who are not qualified teachers.
East Sussex Council had not responded at the time of going to press.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.