Teaching assistant suffering daily attacks from children blames lack of funding

A primary school teaching assistant who was hit by pupils ‘nearly every day’ says children and staff are bearing the brunt of a lack of funding.

The assistant, who works in Cardiff, told UNISON she would dread going into work after being punched, slapped and kicked by children.

She said: “I would regularly go home and go straight to bed as I would be emotionally and physically exhausted.

“This had an impact on my family life as I was spending less time with my husband and children in the evenings.”

This situation, she said, was made worse by a lack of funding and added: “The frustration we have is that the children require significant support and, due to current financial stress like most schools in Cardiff, we have been unable to employ extra staff to be one-to-one with the pupils.

“There seems to be a gap in support given to pupils of reception age.

“We are constantly asking how we get support for these pupils who clearly need it.”

She said: “Children with very challenging needs have come into our school and we are unable to provide them with the support they need because of this funding freeze.

“We also need more support for the mental health of staff with several now off sick due to working pressures.

“The impact of COVID on children and young people is now becoming very apparent and school support staff are the ones who are having to suffer.”

The comments follow a heart-breaking survey by UNISON Cymru/Wales which revealed a significant number of school staff subjected to violence, sexual harassment and abuse leading some to take months off work due to stress and depression or leaving education altogether.

School support staff told UNISON they dread going into work, are actively looking for other jobs and have had to receive hospital treatment after being attacked by pupils and having objects including tables thrown at them.

UNISON Cymru/Wales head of schools Rosie Lewis said: “Everyone has the right to a safe workplace, it is appalling and completely unacceptable that staff in schools are receiving the levels of abuse detailed in our survey.

“UNISON works with support staff in schools throughout Wales and across the UK to address these issues and secure decent working conditions and pay that reflects the responsibility expected of them.

“The Welsh government must ensure all school support staff are given support, access to training and much improved pay if we are to avoid an exodus of experienced workers from the education sector.”