It’s important for school leaders, when reviewing their teacher training, levels of workload, resources and support, to ensure that frontline support staff aren’t left out.
Support teams face a variety of challenges and have diverse CPD needs, but there are some things that all school leaders can do to foster greater inclusion.
1. Provide relevant CPD
Support staff undertake important work in areas such safeguarding, first aid, finance, HR and data protection; ensuring they possess at least the statutory training appropriate their roles is thus essential if teachers and leaders are to maintain their focus on the school’s teaching and learning.
2. Plan ahead
Keeping support staff in the hall for the whole of your next INSET day can be counterproductive, when they could be using that time to undertake role-specific training or carry out tasks that are difficult to complete in a normal working day.
On the other hand, excluding them completely will be similarly unhelpful, and can suggest that school leaders lack an understanding of their role. By planning ahead, ensuring that time will be available and using it appropriately, school leaders can go far in helping to alleviate workload pressures on support staff while enabling new opportunities for training.
3. Assign responsibility
If your CPD is to be both appropriate and sensibly organised, the line managers of your support staff have to understand their responsibility for making this happen. Depending on your staff structure, it might be worth assigning this oversight to a member of the SLT or the school’s SBM, so that quality CPD can be properly identified and delivered, and its impact recorded.
4. Communicate more
Most CPD isn’t a whole school activity, but providing quality education provision very much is – and school-wide communication is the key to making this happen. School leaders should share whole school information and messages with all staff regularly.
Make sure all support staff have their own email accounts, are included in any email briefings and bulletins, and are invited to general staff meetings. This can foster a wider team feel, regardless of how many hours people work or which specialist team they’re part of.
5. Establish dialogue
Support staff will collectively see a lot of things that teachers and leaders often don’t. Their experience of the school will be from a different perspective, which means they can provide you with valuable insights by discussing their work, their interactions and general view of the school.
Asking for their opinions, valuing their feedback and acting on their concerns can go a long way towards building your staff relationships and improving the school.
Laura Williams is a former MAT chief operations officer and school business manager, and the founder of LJ Business Consultancy; for more information, visit ljbusinessconsultancyltd.co.uk or follow @lauraljbusiness.