UNISON conducted a survey of members working in schools in September 2016 while the survey focused on the impact of cuts on schools members answers to the questions highlighted a range of issues which are relevant to the committee’s inquiry into Additional Support Needs in schools. The key challenges raised by members were:
- Increased general workload and physical demands
- Increasing amounts of challenging behaviour
- Dealing with medications and personal care
Support staff, particularly classroom assistants, are also expected to undertake a range of personal care and medical tasks. We are not talking about cleaning a cut and putting on a plaster or giving a child some Calpol. (though even these carry risks that need to be properly managed. Pupils require a range of interventions, checking blood sugar and responding with correct insulin injections, catheterisation, tube feeding, dealing with tracheotomy tubes. These are tasks which carry high degrees of risk if not done properly. Many staff are uncomfortable with taking on the level of responsibility and risk that medical procedures require and feel that the training and risk assessment that they have been given are not adequate to the tasks involved.