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Schools risk support staff exodus over pay

More than two-fifths of school support workers seeking better paid jobs due to the cost of living crisis, warns Unison

by Industrial reporter @TrinderMatt

SCHOOLS risk an exodus of support staff over persistently low pay, with more than two-fifths seeking higher-waged jobs as the cost of living rises, Unison said yesterday.

The union’s latest survey of school support staff reveals that 42 per cent of teaching assistants, caretakers, cleaners and other workers in England and Wales are actively looking to leave the sector.

The research “paints a bleak picture of school employees living with no heating or hot water because of broken boilers they can’t afford to fix, worrying about how to pay for dental treatment, relying on their children for money or going to foodbanks,” Unison said.

An overwhelming majority (96 per cent) said that their pay is insufficient to cope with increasing prices, with about a third earning less than £1,000 a month.

Only about half (49 per cent) feel valued at work, while 70 per cent are worried about paying bills and 47 per cent are struggling to cover mortgage or rent.

A quarter have resorted to taking second or even third jobs to make ends meet, while 35 per cent have borrowed money from friends and family.

Unison assistant general secretary Jon Richards said: “Schools risk an exodus of support staff, as people reluctantly seek better-paid jobs.

“This is a terrible state of affairs, given the tireless work of support staff throughout the [Covid-19] pandemic, ensuring schools remained open and free school meals were still provided.

“The government must make extra money available to enable schools to keep the support staff they’re so dependent upon by paying them properly.”

There is a pay freeze in force for most public-sector workers, while some have been offered below-inflation increases. 

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