MPs celebrate Stars in our Schools at parliamentary drop-in

The event gave MPs the chance to celebrate support staff, as well as talk to UNISON members about the issues being faced in schools

Sarah Sammon (UNISON teaching assistant), Catherine McKinnell (MP for Newcastle North) and Lynne Wade (UNISON teaching assistant)
Above L-R, Sarah Sammons (UNISON teaching assistant), Catherine McKinnell (MP for Newcastle North) and Lynne Wade (UNISON teaching assistant)

Ahead of today’s Stars in our Schools Day, MPs attended a UNISON-run drop-in session at Westminster, to celebrate school support staff and learn more about the issues they face.

UNISON’s annual celebration highlights the amazing work that school support staff do, every day, around the country. They are the caterers, the admin staff, the finance officers, the teaching assistants, the librarians, the ICT technicians, the parent support advisers, and more.

Stars in our Schools is all about recognising their wonderful contributions. And, until 30 November, anyone can nominate a Star – with one winner from each of the 12 regions across the UK being announced in December.

Nominate your Star

Kim Leadbetter (MP for Batley and Spen) talks to Lynne Wade (UNISON teaching assistant) and Nahuel Durante

Kim Leadbetter, MP for Batley and Spen, talks to UNISON members and staff

The event gave MPs, including Liz Twist, co-chair of the UNISON group of Labour MPs, an opportunity to show their support for the celebration, through photo-ops and meetings with UNISON members.

The members, Lynne Wade and Sarah Sammons, who are teaching assistants at a special school in Upminster, and Peter Liddle, who is the schools convenor for UNISON Havering branch, raised concerns to the MPs around schools funding and the financial struggle faced by schools, parents and staff following last week’s budget statement.

Education is still facing cuts

Tam Dhesi (MP for Slough) speaks to Lynne Wade (UNISON teaching assistant), Sarah Sammons (UNISON teaching assistant) and Peter Liddle (schools convenor UNISON Havering branch)

Tam Dhesi, MP for Slough, speaks to UNISON schools members

Support staff are vital to children’s learning and the smooth running of schools. The members highlighted some of the issues that they currently face, as well as talking about the initiatives they have introduced to help colleagues who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, such as signposting to sources of support and well-being events.

UNISON’s national officer for schools, Jo Parry, said: “It was great that the MPs were able to join us and listen first-hand to the challenges support staff in schools are facing.

“But now is the time for action, and for the government to invest in our education workforce for the benefit of all.”

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, in Westminster Hall holding a stars in our schools placard

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central