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Education

‘Overworked, underpaid and taken for granted’

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Dr Mary Bousted: ‘Support staff have excessive workloads’

Dr Mary Bousted: ‘Support staff have excessive workloads’

OVER 1,750 support staff working in UK state-funded schools responded to the survey, which showed more than six-in-ten (64%) said they do not consider the work they do when acting as cover supervisor to be different to that done by supply teachers.

Generally, the role of a cover supervisor is to supervise children’s work but not teach.

71% of support staff believe it is not possible to simply supervise a class when providing cover supervision without actually delivering classes.

A cover supervisor at a secondary school in Kent said: “In any given week I can cover up to 30 lessons plus two registrations a day. The work is exhausting. Pupils do not treat support staff with the same respect as teaching staff. We are teaching lessons, not delivering them. Our pay rate does not reflect our responsibility levels.”

A teaching assistant in a primary in Warwickshire said: “I understand that budgets are tight in schools but that is no excuse for how support staff are treated. I cover teachers two days a week during which time I teach the class. The financial reward for doing this is barely noticeable in my wages. Workload is as big a problem for support staff as it is for teachers.”

A cover supervisor in a secondary school in England said: “Too much is expected of cover supervisors. Assessing, marking and planning are not supposed to be undertaken but are regularly expected of cover supervisors who feel they cannot say no because it may not be seen favourably.”

Support staff also reported they have to work over and above their contacted hours each week with 12% working more than seven extra hours a week and a third working more than four hours than contracted per week. And of those having to work extra hours a week, 75% said they do so because their workload demands it. 22% said they work extra hours as it is ‘expected of them’.

73% of respondents do not get paid for doing any extra hours of work.

A learning support assistant from an infant school in Hampshire said: “Having worked in education for many years the responsibilities linked to the role of the teaching assistant increase every year. Sadly the recognition for loyalty, experience and pay seem to do the opposite.”

With support staff feeling they are already overworked, around a fifth (21.4%) of respondents said this is worsened by support staff redundancies made at their school in the last 12 months. Just over a quarter (26%) said the redundancies were compulsory.

Unsurprisingly, 61% said the support staff redundancies had been made because of financial shortages, with school budgets being eversqueezed. 26% said redundancies had been made due to re-organisation at their school. A technician in a secondary school in North Somerset said: “Support staff morale is at an all-time-low. People are stressed, overworked and underappreciated, and yet more cuts are needed apparently.”

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said: “Support staff are struggling under excessive workloads as much as teachers and this survey shows that, sadly, support staff feel over-utilised and under-valued.

“It is unacceptable that so many support staff are working longer hours than they are contracted for. Even more so, they are feel that have to work longer hours because their workload demands it.

“The Government needs to address workload issues for all education staff as we know that the hours worked, and the type and impact of some of that work, is becoming too much for them, resulting in stress and illness. It is driving experienced and valuable staff from the profession.

“This is why ATL has launched its work-life campaign ‘It’s about time’ which aims to empower our members and colleagues to find ways to tackle the issue, to reduce hours, to reduce unnecessary workload and to give professionals the time and trust to make the maximum impact on pupils’ learning.”

The survey also found that support staff are struggling to get the training and continuing professional development (CPD) they need, with 41% saying their school does not regularly organise CPD for support staff. 47% said this was because of a lack of funds and 30% said it was due to lack of time.

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Education

Teacher’s gruelling challenge to help visually impaired child

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TEACHER Sion Jenkins is running 100 laps around a famous Pembrokeshire landmark to raise money to help a visually impaired child in his class.

He is aiming to raise £2,000 on crowd funder platform Go Fund Me by doing laps of Carew Castle and Mill in just 24 hours, about one hundred miles in total.

Sion said: “I decided that I wanted to raise money to help purchase a trike/adapted bike to help a visually impaired child in my class.

“Due to his sight, he isn’t able to ride a bike – and is desperate to gain some independence/confidence and ride a bike like every other child.

“On the back of a challenge set by school, to complete the ‘100 challenge’ as a tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore, I decided to tie the two together and have a go at completing this gruelling challenge.

“100 laps of Carew Castle and Mill will total just under 100 miles – in less than 24 hours.”

If you would like to contribute to this epic challenge this is the link:

https://uk.gofundme.com/f/carew-mill-100-laps-in-24-hours?

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Education

Schools partnership promotes the benefits of outdoor learning

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OUTDOOR learning across the county has received a welcome boost over the past 12 months as a result of additional funding secured by the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools (PODS) project, which has covered the cost of a Co-ordinator working directly with schools.

Thanks to financial backing from the People’s Postcode Local Trust and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Trust, the PODS Co-ordinator has been able to help with the delivery of high quality, curriculum-linked learning experiences in school grounds and local outdoor spaces.

Part of the Co-ordinator’s role is also to bring together local and national organisations, including Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s Discovery team, teachers and head teachers. Pooling their diverse knowledge and expertise, the partnership seeks to share good practice and promote the benefits of taking lessons outdoors.

Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools Co-ordinator Bryony Rees said: “Last summer, the Welsh Government recognised the importance of outdoor learning in the post-lockdown return to school. We have been working hard to support this by giving children and teachers increased opportunities to take their learning outdoors.

“We have already engaged with a number of schools across Pembrokeshire and produced some live webinars. Supporting resources for these can be found on HWB. This has made it possible to reach out to even more schools with practical information, inspiration and advice on delivering outdoor learning programmes.

“Several schools have taken the opportunity to develop their school grounds to support outdoor learning and more recently, Neyland Community School has introduced outdoor lessons every Friday.”

During the most recent lockdown, work has continued online and the PODS website has been developed to provide teachers with some learning resources. Outdoor learning ideas and inspiration for teachers and parents are also shared on the PODS Facebook page (Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools) and on Twitter @PembsOutdoorSch.

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Education

Education announcement welcomed by Pembrokeshire County Council

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THE LOCAL AUTHORITY has said that it welcomes the Welsh Government’s announcement today (Friday, 29th January) that schools will be the first to reopen when Wales’ current lockdown restrictions are lifted.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced that the ‘alert level four’ restrictions will remain in Wales for three more weeks but following that period, there would be a ‘phased and flexible back-to-school approach if coronavirus cases continue to fall’.

He said primary school children would be the first to return, if the public health situation continues to improve, and that students studying vocational qualifications would also be among those prioritised for the phased return to colleges.

Mr Drakeford said: “We’ve seen a really welcome fall in cases of the virus all over Wales, but they are still too high and the NHS continues to be under intense pressure.

“We need to keep the lockdown restrictions in place for a little while longer to help us bring rates of the virus down further. If we can do this, we will create the headroom we need to get children back to school after half term – starting with the youngest at primary schools.

“We will work with teachers, colleges, local authorities to plan for the safe return of children to school over the next couple of weeks and keep parents updated.”

Pembrokeshire’s Director of Education, Steven Richards-Downes, will be meeting virtually with Welsh Government ministers today together with other Education Directors.

Mr Richards-Downes said: “We welcome the Welsh Government’s statement that schools will be the first to reopen, whenever that may be.

“We will continue to work directly with unions, headteachers, governing bodies and other Council services to ensure that schools are Covid-safe when they are re-opened.

“Distance learning will continue for now and parents should contact their schools directly if they have any queries regarding this.”

He added: “Any parent experiencing difficulties with digital exclusion should contact their school directly.

Free school meals payments will continue to be paid to families who have applied for them, as planned. The next payments will be made on Thursday, 4th February.

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