Scottish schools can’t keep up standards, say classroom workers
BUDGET cuts have left “exhausted” and “undervalued” support staff in Scottish schools struggling to maintain standards for pupils, a public service union warned yesterday.
In a report from Unison entitled Hard Lessons, staff reported increasing workloads, job cuts, a shortage of educational supplies and dirtier schools in the face of rising numbers of pupils, including those with educational support needs.
Of the workers surveyed, more than half (54 per cent) said that budgets had been cut and more than a quarter (27 per cent) described those cuts as “severe.”
Four out of five said workloads had increased and 40 per cent said they carried out unpaid work to fulfil their duties, often skipping breaks. Sixty per cent admitted that staff morale was low.
Many reported stress as a result of a lack of training and support for tasks they carry out, such as administering medicines — including insulin injections, catheterisation and tube feeding — as well as caring for pupils with challenging behaviour.
Those who took part in the survey include classroom assistants and pupil support workers as well as administrative and clerical staff such as janitors, technicians, catering workers and librarians.
Scottish government figures show that there are 6,707 more pupils in Scottish schools since 2010, but there are 1,841 fewer support workers and 1,389 fewer teachers.
Unison education committee chairwoman Carol Ball warned that cuts damage children’s education and “hurt the poorest kids the most.”
She said that it was “enormously difficult” for staff to maintain a high-quality service “when schools are short of supplies and staff workloads continue to increase, and libraries, sports, lunch and after-school clubs and music tuition have been cut.”
Ms Ball said children with disabilities had a fundamental right to participate in mainstream education, but that required “adequate resources,” adding that “staff need proper training and qualifications to support pupils’ individual needs” instead of warm words from the government.
Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon said that the damning report exposed a crisis in schools and that the job cuts and lack of resources were a “direct result of SNP cuts.”
A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “We want all children and young people to receive the support they need in school to achieve their full learning potential” and staff were “key to providing this."
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