Parents of children at Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust (DMAT) run schools are fighting tooth and nail to halt the trust’s proposed staffing restructure.

Last week, parents, carers and children staged a protest outside Okehampton Town Hall in a demonstration of their anger towards the proposals which could see up to two-thirds of teaching assistants lose their jobs.

Speaking at Wednesday’s protest, Okehampton mum Fiona Taylor, explained her concerns and why she had come out to protest.

She said: ‘I should be at home cooking an evening meal for my children, which I’ve done prior to now to be extra organised, so we can come down here and really support the teachers.

‘It’s scary that people can have this much control over our children and our children’s education and their future. You know, we’ve got future politicians, future nurses, doctors, future teachers here and their education is going to be somewhat taken away partly because the funding isn’t there for the children.’

Since the protest, the DMAT Independent Parent Voice Facebook group has been set up and, at the time of writing, had already grown to include over 500 parents.

The group has now issued an open letter to the DMAT Board of Trustees, urging it to reconsider and find alternative means to reduce costs while providing quality education.

In the letter, parents wrote: ‘It is believed the proposed redundancies would see a significant reduction in teachers, teaching assistants, technicians and administrative staff. Meanwhile leadership roles would increase.

‘With the ending of the consultation period...more than 500 parents...have come together to collectively voice our grave concerns about the impact these job cuts will have.

‘We urge the Board of Trustees to reject the proposals and instead find an alternative model that protects frontline staff and reduces the number of positions at executive level.’

DMAT has argued that the proposed staffing restructure will reduce financial costs while protecting children’s learning, but many parents have argued that teaching support staff are vital in the classroom, providing extra support to children and teachers. Parents have voiced concerns that a lack of such support staff would place extra work and stress on the class teacher.

A spokesperson for DMAT said: ‘We fully understand and appreciate the points raised by members of the local community regarding these changes, and these will all be considered, and shared with trustees. We continue to hold private, 1-1 conversations with potentially affected staff, during which we are hearing their thoughts and exploring a variety of options.

‘Given these sensitivities, and the fact no firm decisions have been taken at this stage, we do not believe it would be appropriate to comment or speculate further. However, we will continue to update parents and wider stakeholders as these proposals progress.’

It is now up to the Board of Trustees to pass or reject DMAT’s proposed restructuring.