Don’t forget to thank school support staff too, says UNISON

The hard work of thousands of school support staff providing emergency care for key workers’ children countrywide appears to have been ignored by the government, says UNISON today (Tuesday).

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has written to school leaders expressing his ‘deepest gratitude for the absolutely vital service’ heads and teachers are providing.

But the letter made no mention of teaching assistants, administrative staff, caretakers or any of the other support staff without whom schools could not open, says UNISON.

The union has now written to the education secretary urging the government to show its thanks to all school staff, and to clarify urgently what personal protective equipment they should be using.

This is in response to the many school support staff who’ve been contacting UNISON expressing extreme disappointment that they were not included in Mr Williamson’s letter, despite making as much effort as teaching colleagues.

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “These are challenging times for everyone. No one would begrudge the thanks and appreciation shown to teaching staff. But the failure to acknowledge the real efforts of school support staff is very upsetting to them.

“They do what they do because they love their jobs and get great satisfaction from contributing to the learning experience of pupils.

“At this time of national crisis, support staff have stepped up to the plate in schools across the country. As many teachers and heads succumb to the virus or work from home, in some places there’d be nowhere for key workers’ children to go without the help of support staff.

“School support staff are very much part of the national effort to fight the virus. They’re going out to work every day, risking their health and that of their families, to do their bit. They’d like to see the government acknowledging their efforts too.”