Mother shares image of crying daughter to highlight impact of teaching staff striking at school with special needs children (Telegraph)

Charlotte Gunn says her daughter Katie was distraught after strike action lead to chaos at her school in Derby 
Charlotte Gunn says her daughter Katie was distraught after strike action lead to chaos at her school in Derby  CREDIT: EUGENE HENDERSON

 

Afrustrated mother has posted an image of her distraught teenage daughter on social media in order to highlight the impact that strikes by school support staff are having on pupils.

Charlotte Gunn took the picture of her 15-year-old daughter, Katie-Ann Boyle, after finding her in tears when she arrived to collect her from school.

Angered by the situation, she has blamed staff and Derby council  for prolonging ongoing industrial action and failing to consider the harmful effect they are having; her daughter Katie has special needs.

Mrs Gunn said that Katie and other pupils’ “can’t handle” the disruption caused by the strikes,  urging staff to bring the six-month dispute to an end out of consideration for the students.

Katie-Ann Boyle dressed in her uniform for St Andrew's School
Katie-Ann Boyle dressed in her uniform for St Andrew’s School CREDIT: EUGENE HENDERSON

Mrs Gunn shared the picture on Facebook along with a message stating that teaching assistants are the “backbone” of special-needs education.

The strikes – which involved teaching assistants, caretakers, lunchtime supervisors and administration staff – have been taken place since last July.

Some of the strikes have been for half days or lunchtimes but on Tuesday they staged a full day of action, which will be repeated until Thursday –  leading to classroom closures.

Parents, mainly of children with special needs whose schools have been hit the hardest by the action, protested outside the council’s headquarters last week over the continuing strikes.

The row has become increasingly bitter and despite both sides indicating they are willing to return to the negotiating table, there is no sign of an end to the row.

Our special-needs children rely on their teaching assistants – they are the backbone of special needs schooling.Charlotte Gunn

The council claims it will cost £4 million to meet the union’s demands and it unable to meet Unison’s demands, having had it’s lower offer of £1.1 million turned down by the union already.

Commenting, Mrs Gunn said:  “Collecting my daughter from school to be confronted with her in this state because she can’t handle the disruption to her routine. Our special-needs children rely on their teaching assistants – they are the backbone of special needs schooling.

“Without them many needs of our children can’t be met. According to the council the strikes are having little or no effect. Try telling that to my child, I’ve had to comfort the entire way home because she can’t understand what is happening.

“I guess the strikes just don’t affect the schools that matter. But my daughter’s education counts, too, maybe not to Ranjait Banwait [leader of Derby City Council] but to her and us it’s her future.”

Mrs Gunn with Katie and her other two children at home
Mrs Gunn with Katie and her other two children at home

The 33-year-old said in sharing the photo of Katie-Ann, who has a range of complex needs which include severe learning difficulties, she is giving her daughter a voice because she is not able to speak for herself.

“Because of her special needs she cannot cope with having no routine,” she said. All I can do is support the teaching assistants as much as possible by sharing the stories,” she said.

A spokesman for Derby City Council said: “The leader of Derby City Council has never said that the current industrial dispute is having little or no impact on children and families.

“We share the upset of the children and parents, and ask Unison to end this action so we can sit down together and work out a resolution.”

 

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