Education Support Staff and the Need for Comprehensive State Education

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2021 Virtual Special Local Government Service Group Conference
6 April 2021
Carried as Amended

UNISON believes in integrated free comprehensive education, which provides lifelong learning for all across the UK. Everyone should have access to an education system that best fits their own unique talents and abilities.

Diversity is a strength and should be celebrated. UNISON will continue to fight for equity and equality of opportunity for people to have the resources and funding needed to realise their potential. However, the pandemic is only likely to have increased the unequal access to quality education and has further embedded disadvantage.

In recent decades we have seen the comprehensive system weakened as funding cuts hit education across the UK. In addition the dogma of the �market� has undermined equality and co-operation, particularly (though not exclusively) in England.

Education support staff have been at the forefront of change, which has hit jobs, pay and significantly increased workloads. UNISON members in the Local Government Service Group are central to education and we call on the government to end the low pay, low status culture, which support staff endure.

Matters have been made worse – to different degrees in different countries – by moves to business style governance; centralised structures; the reduction in democratic accountability; weakened staff and public engagement; academies; and student fees. These policies have wasted billions of pounds and have not delivered the improved education outcomes promised, nor made the lives of disadvantaged or SEND students easier.

In England government moves to a �hard� national funding formula will allocate money directly to schools. This will remove the chance for local authorities to direct some of the schools funding to areas of greatest need within their boundaries and could lead to further job losses.

UNISON believes that a vital part education recovery following the pandemic is the need for re-invigorated comprehensive education systems across the UK – where appropriate run by a National Education Service(s) – supported by a well-trained and well-paid workforce.

Conference calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive to campaign:

1)For all age comprehensive education with embedded equal opportunities and an end to the loophole that allows wealthy parents to buy advantage, working with the NEC as appropriate;

2)For long term funding plans for education across all UK countries, based on:

a)A stable and well-paid workforce in the future;

b)The same level of funding per child in early years and post-16 students as schools;

c)A huge investment in early years to allow access to high quality, affordable publicly provided early years, nursery education and integrated children�s centres;

d)Increased funding for children and young people with SEND, to enable an educational and social environment which allows them to thrive

3) Against funding cuts to education; working with sister unions, communities, parents and other progressive education campaigning organisation;

4) For the establishment of new School Support Staff Negotiating Bodies, as appropriate/necessary for the UK nations;

5) For proper collective bargaining in Further Education colleges in England to deliver improvements in pay, grading and terms and conditions;

6) For a return to full term contracts for school staff in line with teachers, with equitable treatment for staff on term-time only contracts in the interim;

7) For guaranteed paid professional development for education support staff with set time to do it;

8) For national pay scales for staff allied to schools, such as careers professionals;

9) For academies and free schools to become maintained schools, working with their local authorities, and against forced academisation, producing new campaign materials and resources;

10) For safe workplaces, based on regular risk assessments agreed with branches and health and safety representatives.

Conference instructs the Local Government Service Group Executive to work with the NJC committee to investigate the possibility of a national trade dispute, within the rules of the union and relevant legislation, to seek to secure an adequate funding formula for all schools that will protect education and therefore the jobs of school workers, if possible co-ordinated with other relevant unions.