New school year, new materials, new challenges

Jon Richards, UNISON head of education, blogs

The new school year is beginning and UNISON in schools has been working hard over the summer to produce new materials and updating existing guidance and materials in time for it.

We have also updated the schools pages on the website and included information on the learning and training opportunities for school staff members.

It’s important for activists to remember that only UNISON has the knowledge, expertise and experience to represent school support staff. And our intention is to make it clear to members and potential members what UNISON has to offer. ‎

Recruitment materials from new teaching union the NEU (National Education Union) recently formed by ‎the NUT (National Union of Teachers) and the ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers), might tempt some support staff. However, school support staff need to know that the NEU is not a recognised union for support staff for national pay negotiations or negotiations in council maintained schools. Additionally, the model TUC agreement for negotiating in academies lists the NUT and ATL as teaching unions – and not recognised for support staff.

UNISON is currently negotiating an update to the TUC brokered agreement that made it clear that ATL should not actively recruit support staff – this will be extended to the NEU. If you become aware of recruitment of school support staff ‎by the NEU, please email us and we will take the issue further.

We know that the autumn term will see UNISON branches across the UK, busy recruiting new starters and supporting existing members and we hope that the new materials will help in this.

Support staff ‘Join the experts’ materials               

Newsletter: UNISON in Schools newsletter (stock number 2166)

Leaflet: Join the experts – Be part of the schools team in UNISON (stock number 3730)

Poster: Join the experts – UNISON welcomes the whole support staff team (stock number 3778)

Leaflet: Are you an apprentice in a school? (stock number 3811)

Stars in Our Schools

You can’t be too early when it comes to ordering all your Stars in Our Schools goodies. Mugs, bags, amazing starry mints, stress stars, rulers, pencils and much more! 24 November is the big celebration day but all orders need to be in by 20 October. And, of course, there are lots of free downloadable resources on the Stars in Our Schools website.

Academies model policies

We have developed new model materials for branches and regions organising in academies. There are model employment policies for use in negotiations with academy employers and a model pay claim for non NJC academies. Search the resources under academy schools on the UNISON website.

Schools staff pay 

Pay Up Now!

Public service workers have seen their pay rise by 4.4% between 2010 and 2016, while the cost of living has risen by 22%. Schools staff can check our pay calculator to find out what they’ve lost.

And then they can share their stories online and join the campaign for all public service workers to put pressure on the decision-makers in the run-up to the autumn Budget.

There are lots of resources and actions for the Pay up Now campaign. 


NJC leaflet: Fair Pay Now (stock number 3803)

NJC poster: Fair Pay Now (stock number 3804)

NJC bilingual leaflet: Fair Pay Now (Welsh & English) (stock number 3805)

NJC bilingual poster: Fair Pay Now (Welsh & English) (stock number 3806)