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School staff in Wales threaten to leave if changes made to school holidays, union warns

SCHOOL staff in Wales would quit their roles if the Welsh government goes ahead with changes to school holidays, their union said today.

The Welsh government is consulting on proposals to shorten the school summer holiday by one week and lengthen the October half-term by a similar amount.

But a Unison Cymru survey of nearly 3,000 school support staff found they wanted ministers to prioritise dealing with staff shortages, low pay and increased workloads.

Unison said that 27 per cent of the workers would consider looking for a different job if the summer holiday was reduced in schools in Wales.

Unison Cymru school support staff forum chairwoman Sara Allen said: “School support workers care passionately about helping children and making sure their time at school is a successful and enjoyable one.

“Support staff are feeling the pressure because they have too few colleagues and an impossible workload.

“They need the longer summer holiday to recover from such a demanding job.”

Unison lead officer for schools Rosie Lewis said: “The school workforce is still feeling bruised from Covid and is already under enormous pressure dealing with the changes to the curriculum for Wales.

“Staff haven’t received an above-inflation pay rise for 15 years and have been badly affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

“We call upon the Welsh government to scrap its proposals to change the structure of the school year and to work with Unison to tackle the urgent issues that matter to the whole education workforce.” 

Almost half of the school staff who are also parents said they would be hit with higher heating and entertainment costs if their children were off school for the extra week in October, when it tends to be colder and wetter than in the summer.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “This is an opportunity to design a school calendar that works better for teachers, staff and, most importantly, learners. 

“We continue to engage with key stakeholders, and the public consultation — which closes on February 12 — offers everyone the opportunity to have their voice heard on the proposals.”

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