The truth about the cuts: the teaching assistant

UNISON members reveal how cuts in services affect both them and the people in their care

“I work as a special educational needs (SEN) classroom assistant, helping a year five boy who is autistic.

“There are several other children in the class who don’t have SEN assistants, but who need a lot of support. Some of them can’t even read or write. I’m not supposed to spend time with other children in class. But if they don’t get proper attention now, it’s just going to lead to further problems later on.

“We need more classroom assistants, but the school can’t afford to pay them.

“I went to this school myself. In those days it was fantastic, but now it’s changed. It didn’t pass the inspection, and there just isn’t enough money for what’s needed, not even a glue stick or other materials like that. There’s no PE equipment – none at all, no football nets in the playground, no basketball hoops, simple things like that the children need, and that they’d enjoy.

“I work 20 hours a week but I’m not permanent, so I could lose my job at any time. And when I’m off on holidays, I don’t get paid at all.

“I used to have a part-time retail job in a local shopping centre, which I’d had for nine years. But I was made redundant just before Christmas, and people are saying the whole shopping centre might close down.

“The teachers are under pressure, and that filters down to us, and to the children.

“We give wee prizes as incentives, and today one of the children said, ‘Miss, I would like to name you for a prize for all the work you do for the teacher.’”

Tell us about a local service that has been cut in your community and how it has affected you in ‘Tell us your story’.