Corby school's teaching assistants' anger at lunch break cut proposals

The lunch hour would be reduced to 30 minutes

By Alison Bagley
Friday, 28th May 2021, 5:18 pm

Teaching assistants at a Corby school have urged a re-think on changes to their working hours that would see their lunch break halved.

Support staff at Danesholme Junior Academy in Motala Close are being supported by the GMB union to fight the change to their lunch hour.

Part of Greenwood Academies Trust, the school has said the proposed changes are designed to ensure all children are able to be fully supported throughout the school day - and the staff would have an increase in pay.

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Danesholme Junior Academy

One GMB trade union member at the school who wished to remain anonymous said: “Lunch times are our time of rest. It’s a break, often away from challenging behaviours, to eat our lunch in peace and prepare for the afternoon’s workload.

"Throughout the pandemic, as key workers we have gone over and above for the school, and this is how they repay us? It is just so unfair.”

The GMB union has urged the school to do a U-turn, saying that teaching assistants have already lost their morning break at the school, which they say is not the case for teaching assistants at other local schools within the same academy trust.

Teaching assistants at the school believe that their health, safety and welfare is being put at risk by the proposals and that they aren’t in line with that of other staff at the school.

Rachelle Wilkins, GMB trade union regional organiser, said: "This just isn’t good enough. I have approached the school and expressed how devastated teaching assistants are with the proposals. The school so far do not wish to get back around the table with teaching assistants, instead refusing to answer staff questions and simply repeating their position.

"GMB is the trade union for all school staff and we will continue to support these members in their fight to keep their one hour lunch break. We’re with them 100 per cent and it’s clear from them that this move would put their health, safety and welfare at risk.

"School top brass are treating them unfairly and differently to the teaching staff. We don’t believe that any staff should have their lunch break cut."

A spokesperson for the academy said: “We are currently undergoing a consultation process regarding proposed changes to some staff roles, in order to best meet the needs of all pupils in our care. As an academy, our pupils and staff are at the heart of every decision we make, and we are fully committed to providing our pupils with the very best education possible, regardless of ability or background.

“These proposed changes are designed to ensure all children are able to be fully supported throughout the school day by staff who know them well and thoroughly understand their individual needs.

"These changes, which include salary increases, also include five additional training days each year, allowing these staff opportunities to further their development in essential areas such as safeguarding, first aid and job-specific curriculum initiatives, as well as opportunities for professional qualification in supporting teaching and learning.

"The consultation process underway allows us to carefully listen to the viewpoints of all affected staff and includes opportunities and feedback mechanisms to ensure their views are heard.”