Today is a national celebration day of school support staff: the stars in our schools.
In schools across the UK, UNISON is promoting the tireless contribution of the 250,000 support staff we are proud represent.
Students will be holding special assemblies, baking cakes, dressing up and designing posters to show their appreciation for these unsung heroes who support nine million pupils in 30,000 schools across the country every day.
From cooks, cleaners and caterers to teaching and classroom assistants, family support advisers and school business managers – school support staff carry out an incredibly diverse range of jobs.
The one thing all these roles have in common though, is that they improve the education of pupils while providing invaluable support to teachers and parents.
School support staff are the backbone of every school and are being given more responsibilities and managerial titles, and their pay and conditions must reflect this.
We have made big steps, with UNISON’s campaign for a living wage in schools nearing critical mass – almost half are committed to paying the living wage as a result of landmark agreements secured by the union.
UNISON has also produced a step by step guide for schools on how to implement the living wage.
But there is more work to be done.
Many support staff are still being paid just above the minimum wage, which is simply not acceptable for the amount of work and responsibility they have.
UNISON’s survey, which revealed that one in six school support workers are taking second jobs to make ends meet, is truly shocking.
What we desperately need is for school support workers to have their responsibilities recognised in their pay and conditions, with permanent contracts and decent conditions.
To put it simply, schools could not run without the stars who are their support staff.