The opening of all schools across Malta and Gozo saw no serious issues reported to the Union of Professional Educators (UPE).
- Unlike in previous years, State schools had no drastic shortages of teachers, but in a few schools the contrary was reported – extra teachers were deployed.
- There is still a significant number of students who need to be statemented. We are aware of the backlog in the Statementing Unit, and unfortunately, this has led to issues within the classroom. The delay has resulted in several students not receiving the support they require in an environment where quality education matters.
- It has been reported that Learning Support Educators (LSEs) have found it difficult to cope during the Breakfast Club period. Several 1 to 1 students have not been allocated an LSE. We had voiced the concerns of our members with the Education Ministry, and we are pleased to announce that the Ministry took on board our suggestions and will in the coming days assign more LSEs to those students who have a 1 to 1 statement.
- Another concern surrounded the 15-minute break enshrined in the collective agreement covering LSEs supporting 1 to 1 students. During the pandemic, LSEs who were unable to avail themselves of this break were being paid accordingly. With the end of the pandemic and the removal of all restrictions in schools, LSEs are once again able to take the break. However, this is not the case in every school as some schools are not in a position to provide enough replacements for the break period. The risk was that an LSE would not be paid for supervision if they missed their break. The UPE will babe giving further information in the coming days on this issue.
- Another issue that cropped up was the extra duties assigned to all members of staff at Gozo secondary school. This issue was resolved quickly by the UPE, and teachers and other educators in the school are not obliged to do any extra duties.
- The Union was busy during the summer months by helping many of its members in such areas as: disciplinary boards, deployments, progression issues, regularisation of contracts, strengthening representation of the UPE at the school, active assistance to lecturers and other members of the academic staff at ITS and MCAST.
A stern test
One of the challenges we currently face is the claim of recognition for LSE representation within state schools. We have taken action to make sure that the Union will represent LSEs in order to elevate their status as educators in the negotiations for the new collective agreement.
This is us. We are duty-bound to continue working hard to achieve the goals we have have set for ourselves from the beginning.
Our commitment, should anyone doubt it, is to improve the work conditions of and the level of respect for ALL educators. We are steadfast in our resolve that actions speak louder than words!