News headlines have been dominated by strikes over the last couple of months, with the National Education Union (NEU) announcing multiple teacher and support staff strike days just last week. The reality is that teaching staff are at breaking point and those who work in SEND are no exception.
An article published in The Guardian in December 2022 reports the results of a poll of over 900 primary and secondary school SENCOs in England. More than half of those polled revealed that they are struggling to recruit support staff for children and young people with SEND, either due to a lack of people applying or the applicants not being suitable. Why? The pay is too low, even more so now the cost of living crisis is taking hold. Teaching assistants are “leaving in droves” because they can earn a higher wage working in a supermarket. Full article here.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I work as a support assistant in a specialist SEND provision. It’s a job I’ve wanted for years and I love it. My students are amazing and my colleagues are a fantastic bunch of people to work with. We all love what we do and we all knew going into this job that it would never be a big money earner, but there’s a difference between not earning very much and barely earning enough to survive. The provision has lost at least 15 members of staff since July 2022; most of them haven’t been replaced. The knock on effect is huge – the rest of us are having to do more to fill the gaps which eventually increases sickness levels as people get burnt out. It is a very difficult situation to be in - we care about our students and we want to do our best for them, but we can’t give them our best if we’re exhausted. Ultimately, the young people are the ones who are suffering.
And so we arrive at the current situation, strike action. Spoiler alert: teaching staff (and all the other public sector workers) don’t want to strike but they feel that they have been left with no other choice. A second Guardian article, dated 21st January 2023, shares the experiences and views on striking of eight different public sector workers and makes alarming reading. The quote below, from the teacher who was interviewed, says it all:
“What convinced me I had to take this action is that, if we don’t act now, the long-term impact on those children is going to be worse. If we do nothing, we will watch generation after generation be failed by the system.”
The education system is broken and pupils and teachers alike are suffering. Working in education, particularly in a SEND setting, is far from easy and requires in depth knowledge, skill and training that is constantly being reviewed. Our students have the right to proper support and expertise in their education and we have every right to be paid fairly.
Looking for personalized support to help your child succeed? Meet Emilia, well-trained professional Science Teacher with over 5 years of experience working in education. Learn more about Emilia and how she can make a difference in your child's education journey: Emilia
Excellent caring teachers who work together with parents and students to put together the best supportive plan possible. Would highly recommend. Stephanie Sercombe