WARRINGTON Primary Academy Trust (WPAT) has come under fire for ploughing on with a 'callous' staff restructure in the midst of the coronavirus.

The trust runs six schools across Warrington and Halton, but the restructure will only affect staff working at Beamont in Orford and Alderman Bolton primary school in Latchford and Ditton Primary School in Widnes.

While this could lead to school staff facing pay cuts or redundancy, WPAT CEO said it was staff's own decision to continue the process during the pandemic and end their uncertainty.

The consultation, which ran throughout March, saw staff go through competitive interviews against their colleagues, which UNISON- the public service union, says created undue stress during the current health crisis.

UNISON branches and members of Warrington Borough Council have since raised their own concerns with the trust.

UNISON Schools Committee chair, Pam Howard, said: "It’s completely abhorrent that trust bosses have chosen to steam-roll their restructure through in the midst of a global pandemic that is fundamentally affecting us all.

"School support staff are going over and above to ensure that children of key workers are looked after in the midst of this crisis.

"Many of our members have volunteered to work over the Easter holidays to support the national effort, and yet they have been rewarded by the threat of losing their jobs.

"It is eminently possible that the current emergency could endure for many months to come.

"If, and when, schools are able to fully re-open, school support staff will be essential in the effort to reverse the educational deficit.

"UNISON calls on WPAT CEO Louise Smith to reconsider the trust’s callous decision and pause all staff restructures for the foreseeable future.

"We will be happy to work with the trust on any current or future reviews once this crisis has been navigated."

Louise Smith, CEO of WPAT, replied: "The restructure has been tough for everyone involved and we have consulted affected staff at every step along the way.

"All of the affected staff in three of our schools- Beamont Primary and Alderman Bolton Primary in Warrington and Ditton Primary in Widnes- were fully consulted about the restructure plans and this lengthy process was completed this month.

"We asked the staff affected by this restructure if they wanted the process to be delayed in its final stages because of the coronavirus crisis.

"The vast majority asked for it to be completed on schedule because they wanted an end to the uncertainty and anxiety created by such a process.

"Most of the staff affected have accepted new roles within the new staffing structure at their schools, accepted voluntary redundancy or have secured new jobs outside the trust.

"Like many schools across the country we are facing big pressures on our budgets and we have had to restructure our staffing to make sure that we can operate within our means and meet the needs of our pupils in the future."