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[Mr George Howarth in the Chair] — Teaching Assistants

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:18 am on 18th March 2014.

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Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Education) 10:18 am, 18th March 2014

I am sure that the Minister will have plenty to say, and that you will not need to exercise your power to suspend the sitting, Mr Howarth.

I congratulate my hon. Friend Alex Cunningham on securing a debate—which has, so far, been very interesting—on this important subject, my hon. Friend Mark Hendrick on his thoughtful remarks, and, as ever, my hon. Friend Bill Esterson on his thoughtful and erudite contribution. I also congratulate my hon. Friend Lindsay Roy on his interventions. David Simpson and Mr Campbell, although they are not now in their place, are also assiduous in attending such debates.

Schools have always had support staff. My mother was a dinner lady, and dinner ladies and others working in schools, such as caretakers, cleaners and so on, are all part of the support structure in a school. In other words, schools are made up of more than only teachers, head teachers and pupils. It is extremely important, from the outset, that we should take the opportunity to pay tribute to the work of support staff in our schools—not only teaching assistants, but dinner ladies, caretakers, and lunchtime supervisors—because they are part of the fabric of school life and part of the process of caring for, safeguarding and educating our children. Such roles are perhaps not emphasised enough in our debates on education.