Ten things you didn’t know about Prospect’s work in education


Ten things you didn’t know about Prospect’s work in education

Steve Thomas, Prospect national secretary, talks about the union’s work in education.

Infant Teacher

Who does Prospect represent in the education sector?

Prospect represents non-teaching professionals working in education and children’s services in jobs like:

  • Advisory head-teachers
  • Directors and managers of children's services
  • School improvement and Early Years advisers
  • Education welfare officers
  • Youth and Community service officers
  • Early Years Professionals, such as nursery managers.
  • 14-19 coordinators
  • Heads of Sure Start
  • Ofsted inspectors
  • Parent partnership staff
  • Self-employed consultants
  • Early help specialists
  • Commissioning staff

How many members do we represent in education?

We have nearly 3,000 members working across the UK. 

What are the top three issues we are facing?

  1. Cuts to teams and services, particularly in the independent third-tier of schools professionals in local authorities, are having an increasingly negative effect on provision and the communities that they serve.
  2. While the education system moves to a wider variety of structures with dispersed responsibility, governance remains underdeveloped outside of local authorities.
  3. Pay continues to lag significantly behind the cost of living, which means that the professions in education and children’s services have become increasingly uncompetitive compared to the roles that we were traditionally recruiting from.

Is Prospect doing any specific campaigning in education right now?

We are about to start gearing up for pay negotiations for members covered by the Soulbury Agreement.

We have raised questions with the Department for Education over the introduction of Schools Improvement roles working directly to a Regional Schools Commissioner and will be meeting the DfE shortly to follow that up.

What does Prospect think are likely to be the big issues in education over the next five years?

That’s a difficult question. The new Early Years National Funding Formula is having a big impact already. Although education and children’s services should be a fairly stable sector, with resources and learning that put the child-first, policy setting is highly volatile and the impact of political decisions is substantial.

For a better idea of five-year plans come back to us before and after the next general election!

Who are some of the big companies who negotiate with us?

Nearly all UK local authorities, plus service providers, such as Herts for Learning, Babcock Education and Entrust Education.

Are most of our members in this industry permanent employees or freelance/contactors?

Most remain permanent employees, however the balance has shifted considerably over the last 10 years, and increasingly we have members who provide independent consultancy from a self-employed basis.

How do we support our members?

The most critical support for members remains Prospect negotiations executives and our representatives who provide quality one to one advice and representation to members. This is most needed in potentially complex situations, for example during formal grievance or disciplinary proceedings.

What’s a recent success we’ve had supporting a member, or members, in education?

Following a decision to make a member at Stockton-on-Tees redundant as part of a restructure, we were able to negotiate that her contract was extended to the end of the academic year. This meant that the member was able to finish an important project and transfer all her knowledge that greatly benefited the young people in the area. It also meant that the member was over-55 at her date of redundancy, and therefore able to access her pension without deductions.

Why should someone working in education join Prospect?

We represent professionals spanning all aspects of children’s and young people’s services in the public, private and charity sectors, so Prospect has a unique insight into the education system and other relevant services from which we develop our policies and are able to lobby for the profession.