UNISON’s National Secretary for schools and local government, Jon Richards, has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, to ask why he has thanked school heads and teachers for their efforts in the Coronavirus response but failed to mention support staff.
In North Yorkshire we are the only recognised trade union for school support staff and we represent thousands of cleaners, cooks, kitchen staff, administrative staff, caretakers, lunchtime supervisors, site supervisors, teaching assistants, and many others.
Many of these school workers are amongst the lowest paid in our schools, and over the last few years many have seen their terms and conditions attacked as they have been forced on to term-time contracts and had their pay cut even further.
Now they are at the forefront of the response to the Coronavirus emergency and are helping the government to keep schools open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Many are being asked to work during the school holidays, despite having had their contracts and pay reduced to term-time only.
UNISON has highlighted to Mr Williamson how our members are putting themselves at risk by helping to keep our schools open in these difficult times, yet all the communication from government has been focussed on teachers and heads.
No school can function without teachers, leaders and support staff. We know that school staff value each other, but we aren’t so sure that the government values our support staff.