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‘Overworked, underpaid and taken for granted’

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Dr Mary Bousted: ‘Support staff have excessive workloads’

Dr Mary Bousted: ‘Support staff have excessive workloads’

OVER 1,750 support staff working in UK state-funded schools responded to the survey, which showed more than six-in-ten (64%) said they do not consider the work they do when acting as cover supervisor to be different to that done by supply teachers.

Generally, the role of a cover supervisor is to supervise children’s work but not teach.

71% of support staff believe it is not possible to simply supervise a class when providing cover supervision without actually delivering classes.

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. Pupils do not treat support staff with the same respect as teaching staff. We are teaching lessons, not delivering them. Our pay rate does not reflect our responsibility levels.”

A teaching assistant in a primary in Warwickshire said: “I understand that budgets are tight in schools but that is no excuse for how support staff are treated. I cover teachers two days a week during which time I teach the class. The financial reward for doing this is barely noticeable in my wages. Workload is as big a problem for support staff as it is for teachers.”

A cover supervisor in a secondary school in England said: “Too much is expected of cover supervisors. Assessing, marking and planning are not supposed to be undertaken but are regularly expected of cover supervisors who feel they cannot say no because it may not be seen favourably.”

Support staff also reported they have to work over and above their contacted hours each week with 12% working more than seven extra hours a week and a third working more than four hours than contracted per week. And of those having to work extra hours a week, 75% said they do so because their workload demands it. 22% said they work extra hours as it is ‘expected of them’.

73% of respondents do not get paid for doing any extra hours of work.

A learning support assistant from an infant school in Hampshire said: “Having worked in education for many years the responsibilities linked to the role of the teaching assistant increase every year. Sadly the recognition for loyalty, experience and pay seem to do the opposite.”

With support staff feeling they are already overworked, around a fifth (21.4%) of respondents said this is worsened by support staff redundancies made at their school in the last 12 months. Just over a quarter (26%) said the redundancies were compulsory.

Unsurprisingly, 61% said the support staff redundancies had been made because of financial shortages, with school budgets being eversqueezed. 26% said redundancies had been made due to re-organisation at their school. A technician in a secondary school in North Somerset said: “Support staff morale is at an all-time-low. People are stressed, overworked and underappreciated, and yet more cuts are needed apparently.”

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said: “Support staff are struggling under excessive workloads as much as teachers and this survey shows that, 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.

“The Government needs to address workload issues for all education staff as we know that the hours worked, and the type and impact of some of that work, is becoming too much for them, resulting in stress and illness. It is driving experienced and valuable staff from the profession.

“This is why ATL has launched its work-life campaign ‘It’s about time’ which aims to empower our members and colleagues to find ways to tackle the issue, to reduce hours, to reduce unnecessary workload and to give professionals the time and trust to make the maximum impact on pupils’ learning.”

The survey also found that support staff are struggling to get the training and continuing professional development (CPD) they need, with 41% saying their school does not regularly organise CPD for support staff. 47% said this was because of a lack of funds and 30% said it was due to lack of time.

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Education

Canned Food UK & Tata Steel launch package design challenge

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Canned Food UK (CFUK) and Tata Steel in Europe launch the Packaging Design Challenge this week on April 24 2020.   

The challenge encourages children aged 15 and under to design and create their own pack which demonstrates packaging’s important role in protecting our food and drink.   

To take part entrants first create their ‘product’, a sponge in a freezer bag with 200ml of water and secondly, a pack for their product using materials otherwise destined for the recycling bin which have been cleaned such as cereal boxes, milk cartons or loo roll holders.  

Entrants are invited to send photos or a video to CFUK by tagging Instagram posts with @cannedfooduk or #packagingdesignchallenge or emailing competitions@cannedfood.co.uk.  

Entries should show how their packs are decorated, which parts are recyclable and if their pack survives the drop test – dropping their pack from head height to see if the product leaks.   

A winner will be selected by a panel of experts for a chance to win £100 in Amazon vouchers and the closing date is midnight on Monday 22 May 2020.  

The challenge launches with a live session on Canned Food UK’s Facebook page at 11am on Friday 24 April with Nicola Jones, Tata Steel’s Packaging Recycling Education manager, who normally visits schools nationwide delivering interactive workshops that showcase the benefits of packaging. 

“Lots of families would have been returning from the Easter break this week and I would have been in classrooms talking about how steel is made and why we use packaging. I wanted to continue to share these resources and the Packaging Design Challenge was the perfect opportunity,” comments Nicola.  

“It’s a straightforward activity that children can do with minimal adult supervision, that’s away from a computer screen, and at the same time, learn about how packaging protects our food and drink, reduces waste and how it’s recycled.” 

“I think the challenge will showcase the effectiveness of packaging, just like the can which has great shelf appeal, durability and of course, is infinitely recyclable,” adds Robert Fell, director at CFUK and competition judge. “I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s entries, especially if they survive the drop test.” 

For further information on the challenge visit cannedfood.co.uk/packagingdesignchallenge or see entries as they come in on the CFUK’s FacebookTwitter and Instagram channels.  

-ends- 

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Strictly Cymru brings dancing a-plenty to 2020

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Disabled people from all over Wales have waltzed into 2020 for Strictly Cymru – the country’s renowned inclusive dance competition.

Run by charity Leonard Cheshire, in partnership with the national governing body Paradance UK, the competition has seen dancers in both inclusive and wheelchair-specific categories compete in six heats across South Wales, in preparation for the grand final on 6 June. Strictly Cymru is now in its third year.

Winning in the inclusive categories at the Carmarthen heat on 17 January were Coleg Sir Gar students Kieron, Toby, Thomas, and Max, as well as Richard, who came independently from Coleshill Day Centre in Llanelli and wowed the judges with his Michael Jackson inspired fast feet and moonwalk. A few days later, Rebecca, Chloe, and Anesha from Heronsbridge School lifted the trophy at the Bridgend heat on 21 January.

Gower College students Daniel and Carys wowed the judges with their synchronised dancing at the Cardiff heat, while Coleg Gwent student Matthew secured a place on the final in the inclusive heat held in Newport last week.

Meanwhile, in the wheelchair dance category, dancers Chad and Ben took gold in Carmarthen and Bridgend respectively. The Carmarthen heat rang with the sound of Chad’s catchphrase of “Absolutely fantastic!”

Then, the fifth heat in Cardiff saw the youngest person to take part in Strictly to date, five-year-old Inga, win in the wheelchair category, before Robin John won the final wheelchair heat in Newport after being inspired by his partner Dianne, who was highly commended in last year’s competition grand final.

Dance instructors from Paradance UK also took the participants, who came from schools the community and Leonard Cheshire services in the area, through their paces ahead of each dance-off to give everyone the best chance at reaching the final.

Chad said: “It has been a really great two days and I’ve enjoyed getting to know new people and learn tango. I’m looking forward to the final.”

Robin John, winning at Newport, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful, I’ve tried before and lost, but it feels on a whole different planet to win a heat! I’m looking forward to the final and don’t mind which genre of dance I get, I can adapt to most things.”

Ruth Jones, MP for Newport West, was a judge at the heat there. Ruth said: “I wasn’t sure what to expect beforehand, but it was amazing. As you walked into the room the enthusiasm hit you like a wave. It was so hard to choose a winner because they were all brilliant in their own way, everybody did the maximum they could possibly do.”

Alan Dear, Head of Theatre and Arts at Newport Live, helped support the Newport heat and said: “It is the most joyful thing I have done in years.”

The heats were open to people of all ages and abilities and the overall winners of the competition will be crowned in the Ffwrnes theatre in Llanelli on 6 June 2020.  There they will receive the coveted Strictly glitter ball trophy.

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Education

Lee Waters in School Council Summit

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LOCAL Member of the Senedd, Lee Waters has held the third Llanelli School Council Summit in the Welsh Parliament for secondary school pupils from across the constituency.

Over 70 pupils from schools right across the area visited the Senedd to learn how the Welsh Parliament works and take part in debates in the old Assembly debating chamber.

Pupils chose to debate lowering the voting age and banning diesel cars. They also had the opportunity to question the Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething about their concerns and on his experiences as a Minister in the Welsh Government.

Lee Waters MS said

“Every year since becoming elected I’ve invited the school councils from the secondary schools across Llanelli to the Senedd for a School Council Summit. I’m really pleased that the event has grown and grown.”

“The pupils enthusiasm and grasp of the issues was really impressive, and it was great to hear their thoughts on some really important issues.”

“I was delighted to give pupils a chance to discuss their ideas with the Health Minister Vaughan Gething, debate issues that are important to them, and get practical careers advice learn from past pupils at their schools who now work in Welsh public life.”

“I want to show that pupils from Llanelli can succeed at whatever they choose in life, and get them involved in Welsh democracy.”

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