AROUND 10 swimming teachers at a leisure centre near Basingstoke have handed in their resignation after facing a ‘50-per cent’ cut in their wages.

The swimming instructors at Tadley Health and Fitness Centre claim that the changes introduced by an aquatics team appointed by Serco, which runs the centre, are "unprofessional".

According to teachers that the Gazette spoke to, around ten out of 19 instructors have quit so far.

They claim Serco is trying to cut the wages of private lessons from £30 per hour to £15.93, resulting in a loss of £10,500 per year for each teacher.

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Furthermore, the teachers say the aquatics team has implemented plans to reduce the number of one-to-one and two-to-one sessions at the centre and increase group classes. This means teachers will need to be contracted for a minimum of six hours of group lessons to be eligible to teach private lessons. The members would also be unable to book classes with specific teachers.

The Gazette understands that the centre’s aim is to raise the number of group swimming lessons and increase revenue. However, the teachers claim that the revenue argument is “odd” as there are sections of the centre that are not fully open to the public.

Paula Swinhoe, who left in February before the new rules took effect, said Serco is actually trying to “get rid of” private lessons with the new rules. 

She said: “There’s a wider community who relies heavily on these private lessons. It’s not just about the average child who goes to school, there are nervous adults who prefer private lessons because they don’t want to go in a group. There are special needs children who absolutely would not survive without private lessons.

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“Not only to teachers, but this is going to be detrimental to people from Tadley, Newbury and Basingstoke who come to this centre.

“There was no reason to change this system. They already take a 35 per cent cut from our money. Where does this money go if the centre is not making profit?

“If Serco is given that building to run, they should just run it. What they are doing is taking it away from the community. I am getting calls from other teachers who are inconsolable.”

Lorraine Vaughan, another swimming instructor who handed in her resignation after the pay cut, said the changes are "really unprofessional". 

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The Gazette received more than 20 emails from concerned members of the centre who are worried about private lessons being taken away. Parents of children with special needs said the new rules would affect their kids.

Georgina Jones, who has two children with special needs said her children want to know where and when and with whom they are doing something.

“With children with special needs, this is a must, an absolute requirement. Routine is everything, trust is everything, continuity is everything,” she added.

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A spokesperson for Basingstoke & Deane Community Leisure Trust said: “As part of the process of offering a more balanced swimming programme at Tadley Health & Fitness Centre, we have consulted with our swimming teachers so they were aware of our plans and able to fully understand the rationale behind all decisions. The purpose of introducing our new programme is to bring the centre more in line with industry norms, which will ultimately benefit not just swimming lesson customers but all users of the facility.

“As part of an overall review of swimming at Tadley, we have developed a new timetable, which has two disability sessions per week, plus 1-to-1s for SEN swimmers available during all appropriate sessions. We understand the importance of consistency when it comes to 1-to-1 lessons. As such, customers will still be able to select the teacher they prefer for their children. 

“All of our swimming teachers are fully qualified and trained according to nationally recognised standards.”