TALKS over wages, job cuts and outsourcing services have broken down between unions and the academy trust which runs two of Witham's schools.

It has prompted seven education unions to register its failure to agree with the Academies Enterprise Trust which is behind the Maltings and New Rickstones academies.

The unions claim the workload across the trust's more than 60 schools has increased to the point staff are becoming ill and that cuts to teaching levels is damaging children's education.

Sara Ford from the Association of School and College Leaders said: "We are concerned that AET’s plans to outsource school services and cut school support staff will leave schools without the level of support they need to be able to focus on what matters most - their pupils.

"We are fully aware of the financial pressures caused by the inadequacy of government funding, but AET is attempting to rush these changes through without enough thought, and we are calling on it to pause the process in order to consider the implications in more detail."

UNISON head of education, Jon Richards, said: "The trust’s increasingly reckless approach to running its schools is a huge cause for concern.

"Cuts have placed intolerable pressure on support staff and the effects are being felt in the classroom.

"The proposed outsourcing of support staff jobs will make a bad situation worse.

"Parents, staff and pupils all deserve much better. AET needs to get its act together and quickly."

The unions and trust will now meet with conciliation body ACAS in a bid to stop the situation deteriorating.

A spokesman for the Academies Enterprise Trust said: "We are disappointed to have received notice from the unions, and have immediately contacted ACAS to set up talks over the Easter period with a view to resolving these issues as soon as possible.

"We do not recognise many of the comments that are made, and hope that in the interests of our pupils and staff that these will be resolved quickly.

"Everything we do at AET is driven by our core commitment to providing an education that helps our pupils go on to lead remarkable lives.

"Over the last two years, everything bar the name above the door has changed - from leadership and school improvement through to governance and financial controls.

"These changes are having a positive impact on our schools and our pupils and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure we are delivering the education that local families deserve."