School support staff are 'as overworked as teachers'

School support staff are as overworked as teachers and are being asked to work longer hours for little pay, according to the ATL teaching union

Kaye Wiggins

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The union’s general secretary Mary Bousted has warned that support staff are “struggling under excessive workloads as much as teachers” after research found many were being expected to teach classes. A heavy workload was “driving experienced and valuable staff from the profession,” she said.

A survey by the ATL found that a third of respondents (33 per cent) worked at least four extra hours per week in addition to their contracted hours.

Almost 12 per cent said that they worked at least seven extra hours per week. Seventy-three per cent said that their schools did not pay for the extra hours. 

The research also revealed that more than one in five (21.5 per cent) said their school had made support staff redundant in the past 12 months, and 26 per cent of this group said redundancies had been compulsory.

The survey covered 1,763 support staff, including administrative staff, cover supervisors, exam officers, teaching assistants, librarians, IT managers and pastoral staff.

Forty-three per cent of respondents said that they carried out cover supervision, and 72 per cent of these respondents said that it was not possible to do this without actually delivering a lesson. The role of a cover supervisor is supposed to be to supervise pupils’ work but not actually teach, according to the union.  

A cover supervisor at a secondary school in Kent said: “In any given week I can cover up to 30 lessons plus two registrations a day. The work is exhausting... Our pay rate does not reflect our responsibility levels.”

A technician in a secondary school in North Somerset said that morale among support staff was “at an all-time-low”.

“People are stressed, overworked and under-appreciated, and yet more cuts are needed apparently,” they said.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said: “Sadly, support staff feel over-utilised and under-valued. It is unacceptable that so many support staff are working longer hours than they are contracted for. Even more so, they are feel that have to work longer hours because their workload demands it.”

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Kaye Wiggins

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