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Undoubtedly, non-teaching staff have a vital role in education. There are now the equivalent of two-and-a-half support staff for every teacher in the primary and secondary sectors. This figure includes all types of support staff from nursery assistants to school bursars.

DFEE statistics show that numbers are increasing in all categories. There are over 30,000 nursery assistants and slightly more special needs support staff. Minority ethnic support staff number nearly 2,000. There are also nearly 37,000 other education support staff almost evenly split between primary and secondary schools.

Secondary schools employ on average about three secretaries per school. There are also about 2,500 bursars in secondary schools and another ,800 working in the primary sector. Although there are 15,500 secretaries in primary schools, this is still less than one per school, as many harassed primary heads will testify. However, as there are a further 3,500 other clerical and administrative staff working in primary schools, most now have some type of support. In secondary schools this group will also include librarians and those staff who work in reprographics services.

The DFEE still don't identify separately the number of technicians working in support of the growing ICT facilities in schools. As these facilities grow, it will become increasingly important to monitor the number of support staff needed to make ICT systems work most effectively.

John Howson

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