Cuts to pastoral support in schools

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2019 Local Government Service Group Conference
19 February 2019

A recent UNISON survey of staff who provide pastoral support for pupils raised significant concerns at the impact of cuts to services. Support staff are often trusted adults and confided in by pupils about a huge range of welfare issues, from parental separation, bereavement and caring responsibilities to bullying, eating problems and suicidal thoughts; regardless of whether this is expected of them in a formal capacity. However a third (33%) reported that their schools had made cuts to staff carrying out pastoral roles over the past year. These cuts have included decreases in staff hours, employees not being replaced when they leave, redundancies and increased class sizes. 56% said they don’t have the time, space or privacy to talk to children about their issues, despite more than a quarter (28%) saying they work up to six unpaid hours a week – the equivalent of almost an extra day in school. The lack of time is often down to cuts in the hours they work and huge workloads, as a result of funding constraints on schools.

UNISON is concerned that as other local government services are being cut back schools are increasingly expected to fill the gaps. Yet just as their role has perhaps never been more crucial, school support staff are being made redundant, potentially exposing some of the most vulnerable children to great risk.

Conference calls on the SGE to put pressure on all UK governments to urgently investigate the impact of school funding cuts on pastoral support in schools and the impact this is having on pupil welfare.