Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

“Successive Conservative-led governments have put an intolerable squeeze on school funding. Most recently, Rishi Sunak boasted of returning school funding to 2010 levels. No one in the education world who has seen the effects of real terms cuts over many years, believes this is anything for the Chancellor to boast about. 

“More than a decade of underfunding has cut deep. In their effort to balance the books, many school leaders have sought to carry out redundancies among their support staff – but this has also led to the increasing misuse of those who remain. 

“These staff members already take on far more than their contract allows, on a regular and sometimes permanent basis. According to our most recent survey, 40% of support staff work regularly as cover supervisors – in practice, equivalent to a supply teacher – and 21% as Higher Level Teaching Assistants. HLTAs often find themselves teaching timetabled classes.

“This is not a sustainable situation. For every support staff member lost, their considerable workload is simply redistributed amongst an already beleaguered staff. It is bad news for pupils, too, not least those with special educational needs and disability whose individual contact time is put at risk by the loss of support staff.

“Support staff have been caught in the middle of underfunding for too long. Not only do we need to see a fair deal for education as a whole, with radically improved funding from government to right a decade of wrongs, but also fair pay for all support staff. This motion compliments an earlier decision at Annual Conference to call for a new National Conditions of Service for support staff, so that they can finally receive the respect and renumeration in the workplace that they so clearly deserve.”

Editor’s Note

The survey of NEU support members was conducted between 26 November - 27 December 2021 and received 1,121 responses.


Note to editors

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  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 

The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.