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Staffing - restructuring

In the increasingly tight financial climate you need to ensure that the money invested in your staff is spent in the right way and that you have the right functions in place to deliver your school objectives. This means having the ideal blend of departments, teams, roles and skills. In some cases, you may find that you need to restructure your school’s organisation to get that blend right and to ensure that you are investing funding in the right places. It is also important to ensure you are not paying over the odds for particular roles, so consideration of benchmarking data can be beneficial.

You may also need to consider whether you have too few or too many staff dedicated to a particular area. For primary schools, for example, getting the ratio of teaching assistants to teaching staff right is key, and you should consider both the expertise of the teaching staff and the specific needs of the pupils. Are there UPS teachers, whose teaching should be outstanding and who therefore need less support? Or do you have a large proportion of NQTs who need greater support?

Equally, you need to ensure that your investment in your teaching and support staff is financially sustainable. If you do not have the funds to invest in all the areas you want, you will need to prioritise areas that are critical to the school’s overall objectives, and reduce funding in areas of staffing that are less critical.

Please contact the Herts for Learning HR team for detailed benchmarking information on salaries for specific roles.

What do I do if I need to restructure?

If you are considering restructuring, there are some important things you should bear in mind, particularly if your restructure may result in redundancies. In all cases, ensure you involve your HR adviser as early as possible. It is essential that you have HR support in any restructure process, particularly if it may entail redundancies, to protect the school against any potential unfair dismissal or discrimination claim.

  • Prepare ahead. It can take a long time to manage a restructure end to end, especially if redundancies are a possible outcome. Give yourself plenty of time to plan, and involve your HR adviser as early as possible. Allow yourself at least 6 months if you are planning to make minor changes, and 9–12 months if you are considering more substantial changes and where there may be redundancies. This will ensure that you have enough time to plan the changes and properly consult with unions and staff, and also allow sufficient notice periods prior to staff leaving.
  • Planning a restructure. The first step is to brief your governing body and come up with a restructure proposal. Questions you should consider are:

What are our objectives? School improvement, teaching and learning, financial, etc

What functions do we need to deliver these?

What blend of roles and skills do we need to deliver those functions?

What is must have, as opposed to desirable?

What are the gaps between the existing structure and the new structure?

  • Cost out your proposals. When you have a developed a plan of what the new structure could look like, you need to cost it out to ensure it is financially affordable. Don’t forget that if you are changing teaching roles, there are statutory salary safeguarding provisions, which you may need to take into account.
  • Agree the provisional structure with your governing body. Make sure you agree your provisional structure with your governing body before you consult with unions and staff. At this stage, your structure is a basis for consultation only – it may change throughout the consultation process as you get feedback from unions and staff.
  • Early warning. You should try to give as much warning as possible if your restructure could lead to redundancies, so that unions and staff have time to consider the implications, and you have time to discuss possible alternatives to redundancy.
  • Consultation with unions. If your school recognises the unions, then you need to ensure you consult with them. One of the things you should consult on with the unions is how potential redundancies could be avoided. Could you look at voluntary redundancy? If full-time roles are not possible, could part-time be considered? Your HR adviser will be able to support you here.
  • Fair selection criteria. Devising fair, objective and verifiable criteria that produce the right results for the school is the hardest and most skilled part of the process and one that employers often find difficult to manage. You should involve your HR adviser in helping you determine fair selection criteria. Make sure your criteria do not adversely affect individuals with disabilities or discriminate against particular groups, e.g. younger staff.
  • Fair selection in accordance with criteria. You will need to ensure that the selection criteria are appropriately applied and that individuals are selected for new roles in the structure on a fair and objective basis. This could be done via a panel with individuals being scored against the agreed selection criteria and those scores being moderated. Your HR adviser will help guide you here.
  • Consultation with staff. You will need to ensure that you consult with staff on a one-to-one basis at least twice during the process prior to any final decision being made, in case an individual raises relevant points that need to be considered, which you have not been aware of. You need to be prepared to take on board relevant points raised by an individual, and if necessary to take these into account in the selection process.
  • Consideration of alternative employment. If individuals are put under notice of redundancy as a result of a restructure, you will need to ensure you consider them for any other suitable alternative employment. If, for example, a teacher under notice of redundancy has relevant skills that could be used in another vacant teaching post (e.g. if they have a second subject), they should be placed in that vacant post.

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Herts for Learning
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