National Education Union members Donna Byrant and Jane Stringer from The Vyne Community School in Basingstoke saw their idea for a first ever Hampshire support staff conference become a reality this October.
Around 20 members from across the county attended the event, held in the Holiday Inn Basingstoke, where they heard an update from the NEU’s national official for support staff, Peter Morris, on what the NEU will mean for support staff. In particular, he highlighted issues around workload and pay, and the importance of support staff being in a union.
Julia Rowlandson from Understanding and Supporting Learning spoke next. Julia is a specific learning difficulty expert and delivered a session on “Spelling made eezee” where she described the developmental stages for spelling and the skills involved before moving on to practical activities, analysing why errors occur and looking at different techniques and games to learn spellings. Delegates found the session particularly useful and enjoyed exploring the issues raised.
The afternoon session started with specialist teacher advisor Astrid Dinneen from Hampshire Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service who led an interactive session covering the core principles of working with pupils with English as an additional language, highlighting good practice and exploring practical ideas of actives to use in the classroom.
The packed conference agenda wrapped up with Union Learning Fund (ULF) learning event co-ordinator Imogen Weekes providing an update on union learning and Jayne Whistance highlighting what is available to support to staff in the NEU and how members can make their voices heard and become more involved in the union.
Donna and Jane said that members found the whole day really useful and are already looking forward to the next NEU Hampshire support staff conference.
Donna explained how the event came about, saying:
Having attended the National Support Staff conferences organised by NEU I knew how invaluable it can be to network with other members of support staff. However, colleagues told me that it can be daunting to attend national events, as well as difficult for some members of staff to travel far from home.”
With this knowledge I was keen to organise a scaled down version of our national events, open to those in Hampshire and the surrounding areas, which could be a way to showcase the amazing CPD opportunities available within the union and to encourage local networking.”
Not wanting to step out on my own I discussed my ideas with my colleague Jane Stringer, and together we met with Jayne Whistance who took our ideas to the Union who were able to offer funding and organisational support for the day.”
We really enjoyed the day and would love to make it an annual event.”