Today is Stars in our Schools day, when UNISON celebrates the remarkable work of all school support staff.
Whether a caretaker, admin officer, teaching assistant or school meals worker, everyone who works in our schools supports our children, helps provide an environment in which they can learn, provides safety and security for pupils throughout the school week and supports whole communities through their dedication to learning.
Yet too often it can feel like school support staff don’t receive the recognition and praise they so deserve. They have been among the hardest hit when it comes to austerity and the public sector pay cap, with low-paid workers often seeing their wages slashed even further to pay for a global economic crisis they didn’t cause.
But no-one whose children have been supported by school staff would ever deny their immense value. No-one who has ever seen the care and attention they give to every child. And teachers and head teachers alike know that without school support staff, there would be no school.
Recently it was my pleasure to visit Lister Community School in Newham, East London and speak with support staff there. Like UNISON members across the country, they are having to do more with less while being paid less at the same time. Yet what shone though was their determination to do the very best for all the children being taught there. Whatever roles UNISON members at the school were working in, the message was the same. They were there to help the students, and do their best, even in difficult circumstances.
That kind of attitude is the hallmark of UNISON members, not just in schools but across all our public services. A belief in public service, a sense of duty and dedication that is truly inspiring. It makes me so proud of our union and proud of our members.
And it makes me so proud to keep on fighting for all school support staff, the stars in our schools.