Kids thanks their lucky stars for support staff

Parents and pupils at schools across eastern England said a big thank you to all the teaching assistants, librarians, dinner ladies and other support staff who make their school a safe and happy place to learn.

Staff at St Francis of Assisi RC Primary School in Norwich were presented with a special star-encrusted cake by Norfolk Euro-MP Alex Mayer today at a special ‘thank you’ tea party to recognise the contribution they make to kids’ education.

School support staff make up half the school workforce but they often don’t get the attention they deserve.

The UNISON-organised campaign celebrates the role they play in keeping the school running like clockwork.

Alex Mayer MEP said: “Whether is is IT staff who keep the computers whirring, cleaners who keep schools squeaky clean or teaching assistants who give one-to-one help, they all have a starring role, and our schools couldn’t function without them.

“So thank you! You help pupils reach for the stars.”

UNISON local organiser Natasha Gales said: “Schools simply couldn’t run without the vital work that support staff do in the classrooms, libraries, labs and behind the scenes.

“Support staff might spend most of the year quietly getting on with their jobs, creating a safe and happy place for children to learn, but for one day at least we can take the time to thank them for everything they do.

“If a busy MEP like Alex Mayer can find a moment to let support staff know they’re appreciated, we hope that parents, carers, heads and pupils will also get involved and say a big thank you to the stars in their own schools.”

Schools across the region hosted events to celebrate the contribution support staff make.

In Farlingaye High School, east Suffolk, staff were treated to a special buffet lunch, with a huge cake, and were presented with goody bags to thank them for all their hard work. Members of the management team temporarily took over reception duties and other jobs to allow support staff to attend the celebration.

Sandra Jones, learning mentor and UNISON steward at Farlingaye, said: “It was fantastic to see how the school’s management team and UNISON came together to show appreciation for all support staff, in particular those hidden behind the scenes.”

At Thorpedene Primary School in Southend, staff were treated to a surprise celebration to thank them for their hard work. They received goody bags and cakes as thanks for all that they do.

UNISON reps went around the school with treats to make sure that those who couldn’t leave their posts weren’t forgotten and still got the chance to enjoy Stars in Our Schools day.

And at Impington Village College on the outskirts of Cambridge staff had a lunchtime treat with cake and (non-alcoholic) drinks.

UNISON local organiser David Yates said: “Despite years of cuts making it harder and harder to do their jobs, support staff work hard away from the limelight creating a safe and happy place for children to learn.

“That’s why so many pupils and staff have taken the opportunity today to write letters of thanks to these true stars in their schools.”

Pictured are UNISON steward Tracy Bidwell and veteran UNISON member Glenda Mee.

Many other schools across the region hosted events celebrating Stars in Our Schools.

And the national competition is open till 30 November so you can still encourage people to make nominations here.

UNISON research published today highlights the key pastoral role that support staff play, as well as the huge mental toll that this places on education workers.

Across the east of England more than a quarter (28%) of school support staff involved in children’s welfare go home worried every day having spoken to pupils about the issues that trouble them both inside and outside of school.

You can read more here.