School support staff finally included in wellbeing charter

UNISON has signed up to the charter after forcing the Department for Education to acknowledge role of all school staff

UNISON has made sure that the Department for Education (DfE) included all education staff in its relaunched wellbeing charter this week.

The relaunch comes as a result of pressure from the union to be more inclusive of school support staff and deal with issues particular to them.

In its first incarnation, the report focussed entirely on teachers and school leaders and ignored the issues of almost 50% of school staff including, teaching assistants, learning support assistants, caretakers and catering staff.

Speaking to the Commons Education Select Committee in July on the issue, UNISON’s national officer for schools Leigh Powell said: “For many years, when this was talked about with the DfE, the people involved in it only talked to the teaching and the headteaching unions – they didn’t involve support staff unions – even though we asked to be involved.

“It was only when it was published that it suddenly said at the top it was for all education staff. Actually, it just talks about teachers. So, you’ve got a charter that was only developed by, and really, only looks at 50% of the staff that work in a school. That is a huge problem.”

On UNISON joining the charter this week, Leigh said “We are pleased that the DfE have now talked to us and made these changes. As a result, we have now signed up to the charter.

“We look forward to working with schools and colleges to promote the mental wellbeing of all staff. And we hope that the DfE continue in this vein, acknowledging the wide variety of vital roles across schools and that a teacher-centric, one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.

“UNISON will carry on representing school support staff, promoting the incredible work that they do and fighting for issues particular to them.”