Teaching Assistant Dispute

TA Strike : Council expects autistic children to “wait and see” regarding school closures

Tomorrow will be another day of strikes across the City as a result of the Teaching Assistant dispute over pay cuts.

It is important that there is a plan in place which informs parents, and children, of whether any individual school is being shut so work commitments and care provision can be co-ordinated. The accountability for ensuring that children are educated and that schooling is provided on a continuous basis rests with the Council. For many children with Special Needs, and especially those on the autistic spectrum, routine, and continuity is vital for their psychological and mental state, and to avoid them developing adverse behaviours. Spontaneity, and rapid changes in plans and circumstances can be very damaging to the child.

Although the strike was not officially declared until last week, it was well known that it was likely to happen in the week following half-term. Given this, contingency plans should have been developed, led by the Council, which could have been briefed to parents during half-term week, to allow the maximum time for making alternative arrangements.

In the absence of anything explicit, one parent who has an an autistic child at Brackensdale Juniors,  tried to take the initiative, by contacting the Council:

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Hoping that she would be given some helpful guidance, so she could prepare her son, who shows classic autistic traits, especially around “no surprises” and routine, received this reply:

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No positive guidance, other than to, “wait and see”, on Monday morning, to establish whether the school would be open… on Monday/Tuesday!

This shows a complete lack of consideration for all parties concerned, a lack of recognition of their responsibility to exercise a “duty of care” in avoiding harm to children, and a lack of competence in management and contingency planning. Blaming UNISON for the strike also shows that they seem to have forgotten why the TAs are on strike, and their role in it….and the fact that they have ultimate legal accountability for providing education.  They should address the question asked, and not divert attention away onto other parties.

Bringing this strike to end, when it is very obvious that the Council shows no care for the parents and children, feels an even more distant prospect. Perhaps legal action by the Parents is the only way forwards?

Parents affected by Teaching Assistant strike considering legal action against Council

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