Organising in Schools and Multi Academy Trusts

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2018 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2018
Carried as Amended

For the last few years UNISON has organised Stars in our Schools to shine a light on the wonderful work of support staff. So often they are the unsung heroes of schools.

Teaching assistants, midday supervisors, admin workers, catering staff and cleaning staff are part of the whole education team, who make our schools the success they are.

Conference as you are aware it takes a whole team to make a school a safe and happy place for children to learn. Support staff help children learn, keep children safe and healthy, and make sure schools run smoothly. They are the caterers, the admin staff, the finance officers, the teaching assistants, the librarians, the ICT technicians, the parent support advisers and more. They are vital to the effective running of a school but their role is not given the recognition it is due.

Yet despite the vital role undertaken by our members in schools and the excellent national resources, often our school members do not get the recognition they so rightly deserve.

UNISON has opposed the conversion of maintained schools to become academies, yet many are now stand alone academies or part of Multi Academy Trusts (MATs). These schools that are converted from maintained schools place our members at greater risk of job insecurity and reduced terms and conditions. There has also been threats to remove trade union recognition, whilst a lot of work has been undertaken to seek trade union recognition in academies and MATs, this work needs to continue to ensure that we can continue to support and defend our members that work in them.

Conference notes with concern that whilst our members are more at risk, this is further worsened by many academies and MATs looking to outsource many services that have traditionally been provided by local authorities such as catering, cleaning and human resources. This potential places our members at risk, and further adds to concern that their terms and conditions will be eroded.

It is therefore vital that all regions and branches support our school members, and actively recruit and organise in schools to ensure that these members remain an integral part of the union. To assist in this recruitment and organisation it is key to utilise the national initiatives such as the annual stars in our schools campaign and the national professional standards for job roles within schools.

It is also vital that we work with local politicians who are willing to champion the positive role of the whole school support staff team in making schools safe and happy place for children to learn.

UNISON is dedicated to campaigning for decent terms and conditions for all school support staff, and we must ensure that we protect and support our school based membership.

Conference call on the local government service group to:

1)Ensure that school members in Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) are engaged with their UNISON MAT forum and seek to set up a MAT school forum if they don’t exist;

2)Support branches to draw up model agreements to assist whilst undertaking negotiations in academies and MATs;

3)Encourage UNISON schools reps to take up training on negotiation skills and TUPE, particularly in these schools threatening to introduce local bargaining;

4)Work with branches and local reps to provide full support for branches and school based reps in campaigning against outsourcing/privatisation of school based services;

5)Support regions and branches to have a strategy to recruit and organise in all schools;

6)Assist branches in working with local politicians to promote the good work our members do in schools.