First Minister delivers heartfelt message to ‘Stars in Our Schools’

The First Minister has recorded a special video praising the vital work of school support staff for UNISON’s ‘Stars in our Schools’ celebration today (Friday).

Each year in November, the public services union holds a UK-wide Stars in our Schools event to shine a light on the often unheralded work of school support staff who help make our schools the success they are.

The contribution of teaching assistants; cleaners; catering staff; lunchtime supervisors; admin staff; caretakers and more has been essential to supporting children throughout the pandemic. During lockdown they made a huge commitment to support Welsh youngsters’ education despite very real concerns about their own welfare.

In his video message, Mark Drakeford thanks support staff for the “amazing work” they do every day. He says,

“It has been a challenging year for us all… it has highlighted the vitally important role school support staff play to keep our schools running.

“Many of you were there on site at hubs throughout the lockdown, supporting the children of key workers, keeping our schools safe and clean and ensuring that no child… went hungry.

“Through thick and thin, you have been there. The work you do makes a huge difference to the lives of our young people. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks for everything you have done and everything you continue to do.”

Rosie Lewis, UNISON Cymru Wales schools lead officer said,

“We’d like to thank Mark Drakeford for his words. School support staff are described in glowing terms by the First Minister and that kind of recognition is so important and welcome, especially in what has been such a tough year.

“We are very pleased as part of UNISON’s Stars in our Schools day, that the positive role of the whole school staff team in making schools safe and happy places for pupils to learn is being acknowledged and appreciated. UNISON is dedicated to recognising the contribution support staff make in schools and campaigning for decent terms and conditions for all school staff.”

UNISON branches in Wales are sending certificates to support staff in schools and the union has organised professional development sessions for them.

Notes to editors

The First Minister’s video message can be found here.


Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97