Support-staff training: call for urgent action

20th March 2009 at 00:00
Unison says too many schools fail to offer time, support - or pay

Training for school support staff is inadequate in too many areas and needs to be addressed as a "matter of urgency", a union report has concluded.

Teaching assistants, IT technicians and school business managers lose out to teachers when it comes to allocating training, according to the main support staff union Unison.

Schools too often fail to give support staff the time and cover they need to attend training sessions, it said. And some staff are not paid when they are off work training.

Unison's concerns follow a report by Ofsted last year that also criticised schools for failing to invest time and money in support staff training, despite teaching assistants being integral to raising standards.

The union called on the new School Support Staff Negotiating Body to drive home the need for improved training. Its first meeting is expected to be held soon.

"We want to press for a training entitlement for support staff, which they don't currently have," said Bruni de la Motte, author of the report. "Given the increasing roles for many support staff, it is disgraceful that there is no automatic entitlement to the necessary training.

"It is important that this extends out of the classroom to include admin staff, catering assistants, technicians and school caretakers, giving all support staff a clear path to develop their careers."

The report examines the quality of training over the past five years. It praises the money for training higher-level teaching assistants, who work closely with teachers and can help plan lessons.

But up to 60 per cent of support staff do not get an annual appraisal. Although 75 per cent said they had received training in the past year, in some cases it was as little as 20 minutes on first aid or IT, Unison said.


The School Support Staff Negotiating Body was created to standardise rules on pay for more than 325,000 workers in England and Wales. Pay levels until now have been set by local authorities, leading to complaints that salaries are inconsistent.

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