Mark Whitehead 23 November 2018

Vulnerable children at risk due to school support staff cuts, union warns

A quarter of school support staff go home worried every day having spoken to pupils about the issues that trouble them, according to their union.

Unison says grooming, gangs, domestic violence, bullying, loneliness, and sexual abuse are among the problems that cause concern.

Other issues include parents splitting up, family bereavement, self-harm, and sibling rivalry, to family members falling ill, the misuse of alcohol or drugs at home, and having a parent in prison.

Support staff responding to a survey by Unison said they felt the contributions they made in school helped pupils to feel safer and supported their learning in the classroom.

They also thought their work helped pupils feel less isolated and improved their attendance.

But a third reported that their schools had made cuts to staff carrying out pastoral roles over the past year.

Unison head of educatio,n Jon Richards, said: 'Schools simply couldn’t run smoothly, and the achievements of pupils would be significantly reduced, without the efforts of these dedicated staff.

'Having the right type of emotional support in place at the right time ensures problems don’t escalate into crises.

'But cuts pose a huge risk to schools and pupils. The government must properly fund schools so there’s always the time and space for children to feel listened to and helped.'

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