EA must act to mitigate against disruption for SEN pupils as strikes hit

Alliance Party Education Spokesperson Nick Mathison MLA is calling on the Education Authority to act in an effort to mitigate against any further disruption for pupils and parents in Special Schools across Northern Ireland.

Mr Mathison was speaking following an announcement from the Unite union that its members in the EA would be taking part in 8 days of industrial action over the coming weeks.

“Alliance recognises the importance of non-teaching staff. In many schools, these members of staff are a lifeline to both their colleagues and pupils, and they deserve fair pay which recognises the essential work that they do,’ said Mr Mathison.

“Further strike action will have a profound impact on children and young people attending Special Schools. These are our most vulnerable learners and any disruption to their normal routine has a wide-ranging impact on them, their families and their wider support network. Alliance fully supports the right to engage in industrial action, but mitigations must be put in place to ensure that disruption is not felt in our Special Schools and associated services.’
Mr Mathison has called on the EA to engage urgently with Unite. It should be a priority to agree a special derogation for Special Schools, to allow services to continue for these pupils. He has also been in regular contact with the Department of Education regarding the position of the Non-Teaching Staff Pay and Grading Review Business Case which is crucial in unlocking a pay deal and will continue to press for progress in this regard.

“It is an absolute disgrace that the DUP’s actions in collapsing the government and refusing to restore the Assembly are having such a profound impact on our most vulnerable children and young people. Whilst we know that a restored Executive would not be able to solve these issues immediately, we should have a locally elected and accountable Education Minister in-post, who is able to engage with our non-teaching staff, set a strategic budget and work towards a solution.

“Alliance will continue to urge both the EA and the unions to engage in dialogue in a bid to resolve this dispute as soon as possible to ensure minimal disruption to our Special Schools, and hope a resolution to avoid further industrial action can be found.”