Day in the life of a learning support worker—local authority newsletter

The local authority newsletter is focusing on jobs across local authorities to show how valuable our public sector workers are and the hard work they put in under difficult conditions and often low pay.

Today, Unite would like you to meet Iona (not real name).

Iona works full-time in the Highlands and Islands and is paid £378 per weeka mere 60% of the UK’s average wage (£31,830).

Give a brief description of your work you do

I support vulnerable pupils either on a one-to-one basis or working with a number of pupils. I do this by working with teachers and adapting lessons to assist the pupils to remain engaged with lessons in the classroom. I also assist in pupils’ personal care.

Do you believe you have job security?

No. For a long time now, well before the COVID-19 pandemic, my employer has been talking about the impact and plans because of this year’s budget cuts. When lockdown happened and the schools closed, I think this made me an easy target for redundancy.

Do you feel at risk of COVID-19?

Yes – there is a real lack of social distancing between staff and between pupils. I have no idea where pupils are returning from, if they have been in holiday hotspots and because I have to work in very close proximity to the kids, I feel at risk to the virus.

Do you feel you are exposing your family to danger?

Absolutely. I have no idea what I could be bringing home to my partner or our children.

What support did you receive from your employer?

Quite a lot from the authority but none from my line manager as they did not contact me until a couple of months into lockdown. The authority did launch a wellbeing pack which I was grateful for.

Do you think you are adequately paid?

No—don’t think we are even adequately recognised in or outside school. I am always made to feel inferior although I do recognise the difference I can make to young people’s learning—I do love my job.

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