A HIGH school is in talks with union bosses about making almost a quarter of its teachers redundant as more schools fight for fewer pupils – and Lancashire’s education boss warned many more could lose their jobs.

The National Union of Teachers said staff at Rhyddings Business and Enterprise School in Oswaldtwistle were the ‘first victims’ of the introduction of vocational centres such as academies, free schools and the University Technical College in Burnley.

The NUT is also in talks with three other schools in Lancashire about potential redundancies.

The school is also expecting to see a fall in pupil numbers of around 20 per cent from 695 to 572 over the next three years because of falling birth rates.

Lancashire County Council’s schools chief said the situation was likely ‘to get worse’ over coming months because of the ‘academisation and free school agenda’.

County Coun Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “Nobody likes to see redundancies, but unfortunately, schools’ budgets are set prescriptively and the schools have to operate within their budgets.

“Undoubtedly, the academisation agenda is causing some issues for long-standing local schools that have been part of the community for a long time.”

A voluntary redundancy scheme is underway at Rhyddings, with between five and 10 teachers out of 45 potentially being let go.

Paul Trickett, headteacher at the Haworth Street school, said: “We have just started a redundancy process as we have had some falling roles which means, of course, the income of the school falls.

“We have come to the stage where the income we will receive will not support the amount of staff we have got.”

Sam Ud-din, Lancashire representative for the NUT, said academies, free schools and UTCs were causing ‘constant concern’ for teachers.

He said: “Rhyddings is a good school and academies and free schools have the impact of putting pressure on the school, which can only damage the education of the children who are there as well as putting jobs at risk.”

He said the union had a particular concern for schools in the Burnley area, where the £10.3million University Technical College opened in August. It can potentially take up to 600 14 to 18-year-olds.

A free school application has also been submitted for the town.

But Gordon Birtwistle, MP for Burnley, said parents deserved to have the choice of where to send their children.

He said: “Parents will vote with their feet.

“If they think a free school for example will deliver the best education, they will send their children there.”