DEDICATED support staff at a school have been asked to take voluntary redundancy while others face having their hours slashed.

Learning support assistants at Burrsville Infant Academy, in Craigfield Avenue, Clacton, are facing a reduction in the amount of paid work they are offered while bosses have also asked for a voluntary redundancy.

Staff who work alongside teachers in Years 1 and 2 are usually in the school for about 27.5 hours a week.

The Gazette understands, however, each individual will now see their working hours reduced by 26 hours a month.

This means they will only spend 21 hours in the classroom a week, placing even further strain on teachers trying to juggle the curriculum, while also ensuring their children are learning in a Covid-19 secure way.

It is also understood at least one learning support assistant was expected to take voluntary redundancy after staff initially refused to play ball.

As a result, the atmosphere between staff and school bosses is said to have turned sour and Unison and GMB Union are said to be involved in the ongoing discussions.

A spokesman for REAch2, which runs Burrsville Infant Academy, confirmed the changes are part of plans to alter the school’s current staffing structure.

In a statement they said: “We are starting a consultation with a number of proposals to the staffing structure for our support staff at Burrsville Infant and we are consulting with all staff involved.

“We understand that this will be an unsettling time for those members of staff, which is why we wanted to talk to them face-to-face, rather than send a letter during the summer holidays.

“We have also provided staff with access to counselling services and support and are exploring wider ways in which we can support them.”

Mark Stephenson, ward councillor for St John’s in Clacton, said the last thing teachers needed right now, was their support staff being reduced.

“I am very concerned by this news because it is recognised that quality early learning results in better performances in secondary and further education,” he said.

“With keeping students safe from coronavirus, while continuing to educate them, our hardworking teachers have enough to deal with right now, without having resources taken away from them.

“I would be keen to know the reasoning for this decision and hope it is not financial, because I believe we place too much importance on finances, and not enough on people.”

The decision comes just one week after support teachers at the REAch2- run Sir Martin Frobisher Academy, in Frobisher Drive, Jaywick, were told they also faced redundancy.

It also follows a leaked document from the Department for Education, which last year revealed concerns about too many teaching assistants