Highlights: Stars in Our Schools 2020

Stars in Our Schools was a bit different this year but it was still a glorious celebration of all that school support staff do for our children

Every year UNISON’s Stars in Our Schools campaign celebrates school support staff and everything they do to keep schools running smoothly, helping pupils learn and keeping them safe and healthy.

It’s been the toughest year of many people’s careers in education, and with the virus looming over everyone, this year’s celebrations on Friday 27 November felt very different.

But UNISON members worked to make the stars in our schools feel special in spite of it all, with special ceremonies and school visits replaced by class assemblies and video messages.

Our theme this year was ‘working together to get the job done – safely’. Here are some of the highlights of our celebration day.

General secretary Dave Prentis kicked off the day with a personal message to UNISON’s 250,000-plus school support staff members.

UNISON Northern handed over the Twitter reins to higher-level teaching assistant and school rep Helen, who led us through her working day at East Stanley School in Durham. As she introduced us to her colleagues, she highlighted the key role each of them play in school life.

Parents joined in to let the staff who support their children know what a difference they make:

Some head teachers baked sweet treats for their hardworking teams.

Pupils shared personal messages with their school support staff (thanks Mr Campbell for always fixing the smart board!).

Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeted his support for the campaign, alongside deputy leader Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary Kate Green and shadow schools minister Wes Streeting.

Members in Cymru/Wales got a wonderful video message from Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford offering his “heartfelt thanks” to these key workers “for everything you have done and everything you continue to do.”

None of the activities in schools would have happened without the hard work and careful planning of UNISON’s fantastic school reps and local government branches, supported by organisers in their regions.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to recognise the vital contribution of school support staff in whatever way they could. We’ll be back next year – even bigger and even brighter! ⭐️

Nominations for the Stars in Our Schools prize draw are open until 5pm on Wednesday 2 December.