BRIDGET PHILLIPSON MP: We need high and rising standards for support staff because we need high and rising standards for the children they support
School leaders always talk to me about the vital role of their support staff – teaching assistants, caretakers, school dinner staff, and many more besides.
Support staff are at the heart of our education system, they go to work to improve children’s lives and they do some of the most important work in our schools.
That needs to be matched by a recognition from government of their role and their value. But under the Conservatives, it isn’t.
All school staff are currently overworked, overstretched and undervalued, let down by thirteen years of neglect by the Conservatives.
I’ve written here previously about both the Conservatives’ strikes chaos and the growing recruitment and retention crisis created by this government, very similar to what we’re seeing in our NHS.
But for support staff the situation is even more acute. While they go above and beyond to assist teachers and school leaders where it comes to children’s wellbeing, too often they go unheard in the national conversation.
Labour will change that. We will restore the School Support Staff Negotiating Body, created under the last Labour government and abolished by the Conservatives, to look at their terms and conditions across our country.
Firstly, this will form part of a new partnership of cooperation between trade unions, employers and government, meaning we can resolve issues before strikes happen and put an end to the Conservatives’ industrial relations chaos.
But even more importantly, we need high and rising standards for support staff because we need high and rising standards for the children they support.
We want staff right across the school to play a role in allowing every child to flourish. They will be crucial to delivering the new programmes Labour will roll out from government, for example, early speech and language interventions.
Through valuing those in the profession we can ensure that children are getting a first class education in a first class learning environment, we can improve the quality of the education they receive and we can boost their life chances.
The next Labour government will be mission-driven to raise school standards, to break down the barriers to opportunity, and to shatter the class ceiling. School support staff will be important partners in this mission. Through the School Support Staff Negotiating Body, we will ensure they are valued as such.