School Support Staff

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2011 Local Government Service Group Conference
10 June 2011

This Conference condemns the Coalition Government’s decision to abolish the School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB). This is happening at the same time as the government is encouraging all schools in England to move away from local authorities and the number of academies, trust and foundation schools is increasing and the Government’s encouragement of setting up Free Schools and the removal of community governors, staff governors and local authority governors.

This is driven by the Government’s aspirations for greater deregulation of pay, terms and conditions for the schools workforce. This is a direct attack on and will lead to greater exploitation of a worker group that is made up overwhelmingly by part time women workers, the majority of whom are already low paid and have struggled to get the professional recognition they deserve.

The provision of professional and other services to schools historically provided by the Local Authority will increasingly be subject to the market with an increased role for the private sector. Branches need to be able to influence the procurement policies of schools and pressurise schools to review traded services to increase the likelihood that schools will choose to purchase services from the Local Authority.

Conference is also deeply concerned at proposals by many Scottish Local Authorities to slash learning support for our most vulnerable children as a result of the UK Government’s public spending cuts and the Scottish Government’s budget allocations.

Conference recognises that the reasons for UNISON’s campaign for school support staff still exist: they are central to the delivery of quality education although this is seldom recognised and pay in schools does not reflect or fairly reward their roles and responsibilities. In Scotland, the whole inclusion agenda and the implementation by councils of their statutory duties under the Additional Support for Learning legislation is wholly dependent on having well trained and motivated learning support staff.

In addition, Conference congratulates the many branches and regions that have worked hard to recruit and organise school staff and to campaign against cuts to learning support services and believes it is important this work continues to be supported.

Conference therefore agrees that branches and regions should continue to prioritise recruitment and organisation of school based staff and those providing services to schools.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to ensure that the issues affecting this key group of staff remain a priority and branches are given the advice and support necessary to continue to represent and campaign for school support staff. The Service Group Executive should have a strategy that includes:

1)producing advice for branches on bargaining and negotiating with academy and other self governing schools;

2)produce publicity for members and the public highlighting:

i)the threat to jobs and terms and conditions of workers who play an essential role in schools and for whom there is widespread public recognition and support;

ii)the implications of the private sector having an increased role in the management of schools and the provision of services to schools;

3)assist branches by developing strategies on opposing the creation of academies and free schools and on the increased marketisation of services to schools, in order to safeguard services currently provided by Local Authorities;

4)encourage branches to be involved with broad based community coalitions, such as local public services alliances, to highlight the risks school based staff face and to aid in swift mobilisation if necessary;

5)maintaining information on pay and conditions in schools;

6)continuing to negotiate with national school employers’ organisations on issues such as working time, training and staff development;

7)campaigning on key professional issues such as access to training, health and safety and medical procedures in schools;

8)ensuring recruiting and organising school staff remains a priority;

9)developing finance guidance /advice for reps on school budgets;

10)supporting campaigning in Scottish branches against cuts to learning support staff.