‘We are not in on these days, so they’re going to miss out’

Grace Forester, special needs teaching assistant

Grace Forester, special needs teaching assistant

A typical day in my life is getting into school around quarter to eight, students normally rock up at nine, and then I make sure I catch up with them, asking how their day has been so far, how their weekends were, things like that. We then do a breakfast club to get them prepared and fed, ready for the day. Creating a sense of community at the school is a big part of my role, sitting with the students and having breakfast with them, I think, really does make a difference in their day.

In the classroom, it’s my job to work with the lower-ability children, so I’d be helping with basic maths, basic English in small groups, or sometimes one-to-ones. One of the children I work with has a tendency to get violent when he is dysregulated, so he works a lot better in a one-to-one environment.

Personally, I’m against the strikes, on an economical level. It doesn’t really make sense to me. For example, teachers are asking for a 10% pay rise to match the increase in inflation this year. However, if we increase wages every time inflation goes up, I think there’s going to be a spiral effect with inflation, which will make the general economic situation much worse. Although I do believe teachers need a pay rise, I think it would have negative impacts on the country as a whole – especially with such a large portion of the population being employed as teachers.

I work with a lot of children with autism and mental health issues and the change in routine, especially if we can’t tell them far in advance if a teacher is not going to be in, has had a really negative impact on them. It’s not as if when the teachers come back they’re putting in extra effort to catch up, it’s very much that we’re not in on these days, so they’re going to miss out. I don’t think that’s very fair on our young people who come to us for a sense of routine and security. However. I would never hold a grudge against my fellow teachers striking, and I understand why they do it.

As told to Isabel Mckenna.

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