Dr Mary Bousted, Joint Secretary General of the NEU, said:
“It’s been clear for many years that support staff are getting a bad deal. Long hours and taking on additional tasks outside of their role and without extra pay is unfortunately an all too commonplace experience.
“In our most recent survey, 78% of support staff said they regularly worked overtime every week, with 18% of the total sample saying 4-6 hours and 10% doing anything 7 to 11 and beyond The overwhelming majority are only paid for the duration of the term and only 15% can take their full lunch break on a regular basis, this is something they are not paid for either.
“Compared to when the question about contractual hours was asked in an equivalent survey just weeks before the pandemic, the number of people working only their contractual hours fell from 26% in 2020 to 22% in 2022, while than those who work 7 hours or more have increased. half a percent over the same period. The pressure on those who are able to work within their contract is all too clear.
“Our members also tell us that they are asked to follow up on coverage, which is not their role. 40% of respondents to our survey confirmed that they have been assigned this work in their school, and 74% of this group believe that it is not possible to carry out coverage supervision without engaging in specified work, namely teaching. In fact, more than two-thirds (69%) consider that the work is identical to that of a supply teacher. This is consistent with survey responses from 2019 and 2020, showing that this blurring of lines and teaching on the cheap was a problem long before the pressures of Covid.
“Obviously, this increase in the misuse of support staff saves money, but is very far from a desirable practice, whether for workers or students. Of all education personnel, support staff are also among the most vulnerable – less protected and often fearful of being replaced or fired.
“That’s why we need to see national terms of service for support staff that mark a step change in how they are treated, to define their job and provide clarity when lines are crossed. It’s not just very overdue, but also essential if we are to ensure that all support staff are respected and not further exploited.
The NEU Supporting Member Survey was conducted between November 26 and December 27, 2021 and received 1,121 responses.
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- The National Union of Education is mobilizing for the future of education. It brings together the voices of over 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in private and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe.
- It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands .
The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated with any political party and seeks to work constructively with all major political parties.