Children starting school without basic personal skills warns NUT

Wales’ largest teaching union says there is a growing concern that teachers are unable to undertake their classroom responsibilities as they are forced to deal with basic childcare.  NUT Cymru says more and more members are highlighting examples of how teachers, who have trained for years to acquire the expertise needed for the role, are being asked to change nappies and clean teeth.

Graham Haslock, an NUT teacher representing members across Powys, said:

“What we are seeing is an alarming number of children starting school without core skills such as being taught to use the toilet or brush their own teeth.  That responsibility is often, unacceptably, being left to teachers to fulfil.  Not only is this demeaning to someone who has completed high quality training and qualifications to be a teacher, more concerning is the impact it is having on standards.  It is very difficult for a teacher to be giving the right levels of attention to teaching a classroom full of children if they are having to undertake roles which are clearly not part of their contractual obligations.  Every time a teacher is undertaking these sorts of tasks, they are unable to do the job of teaching.  This is highly unfair on the rest of the children.”

NUT Cymru Secretary, David Evans, added:

“It is totally wrong that teachers are being asked to change nappies, brush teeth and undertake other tasks that are not only outside their duties but have a noticeable impact on the education of other children in the class.  Local authorities in Wales have to start putting in place measures to deal with this issue.  We cannot have teachers, or, for that matter, teaching assistants diverted from work for long periods in this way.  There has to be an initiative which supports parents to ensure their children start school with the basic essential skills.  Where that does not happen, there should be an appropriate person available to deal with those concerns.  Significantly, and increasingly, reducing teaching time for practitioners is leading to a decline in standards and that has to be tackled.”

Contact: Owen Hathway, NUT Cymru, Ty Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ.  Tel: 029 20491818. Mob: 07921 146 442
e-mail: cymru.wales@nut.org.uk