Council response to Unison members’ survey
Highland Council has responded to reports of a recent survey undertaken by Unison of its 800 members who are Council Pupil Support Assistants and Early Years Practitioners.
The Highland Council refutes Unison’s claims that “88% of Highland Council school support staff have suffered violence or aggression” when their figures in fact represent 5.7% of the council’s total Pupil Support Assistants and Early Years Practitioners.
While the Council recognises Unison’s concerns, it is not correct to state that: “88% of Highland Council school support staff have suffered violence or aggression”, nor to state that “63% of staff felt that the schools were using its inclusion policy….” as claimed by Unison.
The Council understands that of the 800 Unison Members surveyed, Unison received 81 responses which represents a 10% response rate.
Highland Council employs 1,234 Pupil Support Assistants and Early Years Practitioners and the Unison survey sample of 81 members represents only 6.5% of the Council’s support workforce.
Highland Council agrees that any situation where a member of staff feels threatened or is harmed is unacceptable. The Council is committed to increase more appropriate or alternative interventions that will reduce such incidents and will continue to work with union representatives for all staff groups working in schools, to provide a safe environment for staff and pupils to teach and learn together.
Of the children and young people in Highland schools who have been identified as having additional support needs - many of whom have recognised disabilities - a small number exhibit challenging behaviour. These children experience a range of difficulties accessing education and maintaining attendance at school and a variety of support strategies and interventions are employed to meet their needs.
Highland teachers and support staff work together to provide education to these vulnerable children and the Council has a training strategy and specialist services to support all school staff to understand and safely manage the needs of children with social, emotional and behavioural needs.
While Unison’s survey results are a small proportional representation of the Council’s workforce, Highland Council has met with Unison representatives to clarify the legislative and policy framework within which the authority provides education and continues to be committed to working with the unions to support staff.