Support staff: Cut technicians, increase your risks

The role of the technicians in our schools is vital to effective delivery of the curriculum, yet numbers are dwindling as school cuts bite, says Jon Richards, national secretary of education at UNISON in SecEd.

Having the word technician in your job title is a guaranteed assumption that you know absolutely everything about all electric or mechanical objects, even if you are a specialist in IT or biology. 

Also overheard: “Technicians? They just push trolleys around all day.”

Well if you have not seen a “trolley pusher” recently that is because from 2013 to 2017 there was a 12 per cent cut in the number of technicians and when the Department for Education issues statistics for 2018 – that percentage will most likely increase.

But this has a direct knock-on effect on teachers, who are forced to perform tasks that they are not trained to do. For example, the vast majority of prep work in science is not taught to trainee teachers – they are just told to expect the technician to “do that bit”.

There is a massive skills shortage in schools and the reality is that if you cut your “techs” you increase your risk. This is heightened in those schools that have chosen not to be supported by the technical and safety specialist organisation CLEAPSS. Frankly these schools are asking for trouble.

From our own surveys, staff also report that they are being asked to do work previously done by higher grade staff, mostly without the required additional training. And we are increasingly hearing of generic tech roles and people being asked to cover areas they are not trained in. All of this increases safety risks.

Read the full article Support staff: Cut technicians, increase your risks

Are you a lab technician, what do you think? Has the number of support staff dwindled at your school? Have increased safety risks been mentioned? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin


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