According to best practice, redundancy should be a considered and consultative process involving discussions between employer and employees. However, it doesn’t always happen like that, and that’s when the word ‘rollercoaster’ becomes truly apt. It could be just as hard for those who are over the age of 50 as it might seem almost impossible recovering from redundancy. In our story, below, the ride is ongoing, but fortunately many of the staff are making the ride their own.
This redundancy affected a small, all-through (both junior and senior pupils) independent school employing 74 staff, across teaching, admin, finance, estates and cleaning. The story that has unfolded over two months is one of true resilience and positivity. It started four days before the end of the school year, with the announcement that due to falling numbers and economic uncertainty the school was insolvent and that the senior school had to close. At this point the junior school and nursery were to be taken over by another school. One week later, this deal fell through and all staff were to be made redundant. This came into effect the week after.
After the initial tears and stunned silence, staff put on a forthright display of professional integrity as they handled a senior pupil leaving function and the awarding of long service awards to staff (two of twenty and one of thirty years). At this point more tears fell and some slipped into shock, unable to take it in. Many were faced with the prospect of limited jobs being advertised during school holidays. A particularly bumpy part of the ride came when colleagues went to sign on at the Job Centre, where clearly the advisors did not know how to respond to a group of redundant professionals. The ride was softened for some by payments of statutory redundancy by the government, although this was only for those with more than two years’ service. (You can read more on the support available in our follow-up article next week.)
After all of this, needs must, and two months on many staff have bounced back and are on the up. I have to respect their efforts and ambition in coming up with many and varied plans for what to do next. Within four days of the original announcement, several had applied to the local council for part-time teaching and some office staff had found new opportunities. Of the teaching and wider staff a number have successfully gained new posts already, including overseas, or have interviews lined up. Some have even now lined up a move to a second post. However, it is the number of alternative routes they have chosen to consider that is most impressive and inspiring, as they have moved quickly to assess and then make full use of their wide-ranging skills, not necessarily sticking to the same career path.
- A member of PE staff is using qualifications in personal training and Pilates to run their own classes and to build a client base.
- Staff with qualifications in outdoor activities are using them to find work or to set up their own businesses.
- Some of the leadership team have looked at moving into university and college lecturing in training teachers and nursery staff, or working with professional bodies.
- Members of the guidance team have moved to make more of their empathy skills, with one embarking on a counselling course and another using their experience in pastoral support in schools to get a research post at university.
- One of the modern linguists is looking to teach adults and undertake work as a professional translator.
- Another is using funding from an Individual Training Account to undertake a proof reading course.
- Others are providing tutoring and running after school activity sessions to fill a gap in the local market. (You can read more about tutoring in our article about alternate paths for creative graduates.)
- Some are moving into college, lecturing on wider skills.
As to me, the former Head of Careers, I’m in the midst of completing a qualification in Careers Guidance and Development to see where that takes me.
The ride may not be over, but it’s looking far less uncertain.
If you’re facing redundancy, or you’re interested in what other opportunities might be available to you, get your Stay Nimble profile today. Tune in next week for an in-depth look at the support offered around the UK for redundancies.
Simon is an experienced careers advisor and teacher. He is currently extending his qualifications by completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Careers Guidance and Development. He is a member of the Career Development Institute and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services. Outside of work he is usually to be found being active in the great outdoors.