Trust under financial notice to improve plans staff redundancies

An academy trust issued with a financial notice to improve 18 months ago is looking to make staff redundant.

Guru Nanak Sikh Academy, an all-through school in Hayes, west London, told staff last month it intended to make a number of its support staff redundant.

It is understood eight staff in its admin team are at risk, with three roles being made redundant, and the remaining staff would have to re-apply for lower band jobs.

According to the latest accounts to be filed for the academy trust, it spent £1.4 million on support staff in 2014. This was an increase from £800,000 in 2013.
In 2014, the trust – that has no other schools – had 87 support staff.

Last April, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) wrote to principal, and accounting officer, Rajinder Sandhu with a notice to improve “financial management, control and governance at the Trust”.

An investigation into “financial irregularities and governance” at the trust was carried out after a whistleblower contacted the EFA.

The EFA said: “The review identified a range of serious concerns, including loans secured against academy assets; a lack of separation in governance, management and operations between the Trust and its sponsor, Nanaksar Thath Isher Darbar Trust (NTID); evidence of inappropriate transactions between the Trust and NTID; and underlying weaknesses in financial management and governance.”

The 2014 accounts for the school show there were four employees earning between £60,001-£70,000 a year, another earning between £90,001-100,000 a year and one earning between £170,001 and £180,000 a year.

In the previous year, according to its accounts, no staff members earned more than £80,000. In 2013, there were 10 members of staff earning between £60,001-£80,000.

GMB, the union for school support staff, wants the school’s governing body to reverse the redundancy decision and called senior staff’s salaries “excessive”.
GMB organiser Perry Phillips said: “GMB is calling on the school governors to step in and reverse these proposed redundancies.

“It is disgraceful that GMB members who work at Guru Nanak Sikh Academy were left in tears after being told they would either be made redundant or have to apply for newly, lower graded jobs after years of loyal and dedicated service to the school and its pupils. This is no way to run a school.”

Mr Sandhu told Schools Week: “The changes that were consulted on were not related to the financial status of the school.

“The existing structure in the academy which included two receptions resulted in a duplication of roles.

“Closing one of these two receptions and changes to the admin structure has led to some roles that are being made redundant, however there are opportunities being created.

“The management and governors of the academy consider that these are important changes in the ongoing evolution and development of the academy and the effective deployment of resources within it.”