School support staff must not pay the price for the government drive to reduce teachers’ workload, unions have warned.
The Department for Education’s Workload Challenge, designed to help ministers understand why England's teachers have some of the longest working weeks in the developed world, attracted a record 43,000 responses.
But unions representing teaching assistants and other school staff have called on the DfE to ensure that moves to ease the burden on teachers do not simply lead to more tasks being passed on to their hard-pressed colleagues.
A survey of more than 15,000 Unison members, conducted in the autumn term, found that 80 per cent of them were concerned about workload. Almost three-quarters of respondents said they regularly worked unpaid overtime; of these, four out of five claimed they were forced to do so to cope with increasing demands on their time in school.
Jon Richards, Unison’s national secretary for education and children’s services, said long working hours were already a problem for non-teaching staff. “If they are going to reduce the workload of teachers, who is going to do the work instead?” he added.
Representatives from Unison, GMB and Unite are due to meet DfE officials in the coming weeks to discuss their concerns.
A DfE spokesman said school support staff had contributed to the Workload Challenge as well as teachers, and that support staff unions would be included in developing an action plan to address the issues raised.
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Workload action plan to be published in just six weeks – December 2014