Hunter urges Executive to deliver for school support staff

education cara hunter School support staff

SDLP Opposition Education Spokesperson Cara Hunter has urged the Executive to deliver a pay and grading review for school support staff.

She asked Education Minister Paul Givan for a timeline on the review in the Assembly on Tuesday.

Mr Givan said the Executive was in discussions with the Treasury on the issue.

East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:

“School support staff have now been waiting six years to see a pay and grading review delivered and it’s not good enough that it was totally overlooked by the Executive in last week’s budget. I took the opportunity to ask the Education Minister for a timeline to provide some clarity to Education Authority staff around when this may be delivered and while he reiterated Executive support for the review, nothing concrete was forthcoming.

“These staff provide a vital role in our school community, from bus drivers to classroom assistants and catering staff, they make an invaluable contribution and many have been left feeling abandoned by the failure to address long-standing issues around pay, particularly as the cost of living emergency has heaped increasing financial pressure on families. While other sectors have seen their pay disputes resolved our support staff worry they will be forgotten.

“At the Education Committee we heard about how school resources for catering staff are heading towards crisis. Staff in our special schools are also impacted by this policy, even though their jobs often entail important responsibilities around caring and providing medical support. These non-teaching staff keep our schools running, despite their dedication we can’t expect people to remain in these jobs indefinitely for the money they are being paid.

“If we are to recruit and retain the staff necessary to keep our schools running then we need to ensure that all staff are paid fairly and in a way that allows them to live a decent quality of life. I understand the financial challenges, but the Minister and his Executive colleagues must make the pay and grading review a priority and find the money necessary to implement it and support these hardworking staff.”

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