School administrators. Business managers. Finance workers.
They’re vital school staff, who do crucial work that makes the school tick, handling complex budgets, conducting vital criminal record checks and making sure pupils are safely in school. A UNISON survey, which we’ve published today, shows just how widespread this is, and how any further reduction in school staff numbers – as proposed by several academy chains and schools in the last few weeks – would be felt in the classroom, as teachers would be forced to take on these tasks.
The government expects schools to make £3bn of ‘efficiency savings’ by 2020, over a third of it from cuts to support staff jobs and resources. That’s a mistake – instead we need to reverse those cuts and put safety first.
We spoke to 1,400 school office staff, and found that they carry out many roles that schools couldn’t function without – going above and beyond the call of duty, and way beyond the support role suggested by their jobs titles.
The majority of those we spoke to (95%) have regular contact with pupils, parents or carers (86% and more than three-quarters (78% liaise directly with local authorities and charities to carry out checks. Seven in ten (71%) say they ensure that people visiting schools are safe to do so, and four in ten (41%) organise security checks to make certain new staff have no previous criminal convictions.
Cuts to these support roles could lead to schools breaching the law or allowing people who could be a risk to children’s safety to slip through the net – putting our young people in real danger. If these jobs go, everyone – heads, teachers, pupils and parents – would notice the difference. These employees play a vital role keeping children safe, reassuring parents and ensuring the smooth and cost-effective running of schools.
Without them, already overstretched teachers and teaching assistants could be pulled out of classrooms.
It’s time for school cutbacks to stop. Attacks on education funding are having a devastating impact on children’s education. With money so tight, schools are having to slash the amount they spend on essentials likes books and computers, which has a powerful and long-lasting impact on educational attainment.
Next week, the country has a choice between school cuts under the Tories and investment in our children’s education under Labour – I know what choice I’ll be making, and which is better for our schools, our children and the future of our country.