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No lunch for MSA's

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by LilHoneybunch, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. I work at a primary school as a Midday Supervisor, and as a Learning Support Assistant in the afternoons. The MSA job is a one-to-one with a special needs child. My MSA job starts at 11.45 which involves putting out tables and chairs and also helping the other children with cutting up food, water etc. Lunchtime finishes at 1.00 when I then go straight into the classroom for my LSA with the same child, until the end of the school day at 3.20.
    As it is too early to have any lunch before my MSA job, I take it with me and have to eat it standing up or when I am walking around seeing to the other childrens needs as well. (We are not allowed to sit down with the children). Recently I have been informed that we are now no longer allowed to have any lunch as it sets a bad example to the children, having to stand up to eat it.
    Going from 7.30 in the morning to 3.20 without anything to eat is a long time but we were told we could eat it once the children are outside but that would mean walking round the playground eating it. Do we have any rights to have lunch? A couple of us have considered taking it in turns to 'go to the toilet' and eating it in there.
     
  2. I am quite disturbed by a management who dont allow you to eat with the kids. It helps students socialise, you set a good example and is very nurturing. Where I work we all eat together and we dont empty our plates till our table as all finished so increasing social skills and communication. Please point this out to management that there is nothing wrong with eating with the kids when sat down.
     
  3. It is our headteacher who doesn't want us eating at lunchtime so I won't want to argue with her! As for sitting down with the children, we never have been allowed to. My mother was a dinner lady back in the 1970s and all the dinner ladies had tto sit at each table and have a hot meal, so the children had someone to learn manners from and learnt how to cut up food. Heaven help any child who held the knife and fork in the wrong hands. This seems to be acceptable at our school and about three quarters of the children hold them in the wrong hands! Going back to lunchtimes, it would be nice to eat with the children, they certainly need someone as an example to sit with them rather than copying each others bad habits. Now it seems we are to have no lunch at all.
     
  4. Do you have a 'line manager' you could raise this with? Just to ask them when they would suggest you ate lunch. And where, they can't ask you to eat in the loos!
    I agree, I think it is very good for children to have an adult eat with them, as a role model.
     
  5. We don't have a line manager or suchlike, only the headteacher. She has the role of supervising the MSA's. As for eating in the toilet, although there is only one toilet at least we could sit down - on the toilet lid!! But seriously, I'm not looking forward to going back on Monday having to go all week now with no lunch.
     
  6. tamtams

    tamtams New commenter

    Hi, I find this totally UNACCEPTABLE. We have two ladies in the same position as you. They do 1-1 support before doing their MSA role then continue with their 1-1 support after. They finish their MSA role then take 15-20 minutes to eat their lunch. The teachers fully understand and so does our head, you cannot be expected to go all day with nothing to eat.
     
  7. Are you aware that if you joined a support staff union (Unison or GMB) they should be able to give you a great deal of help in sorting out this situation.


    You appear to me to be working for 3h 35 mns a day. I don't think this will entitle you to any break at all; I think you have to work 4 hours before being entitled to a break. Although your HT sounds quite inhumane (and shortsighted in respect of 'socialising' pupils) I think that s/he is operating within the law.

    I don't understand why you don't eat at least a snack before work which would keep you going until mid afterrnoon.
     
  8. I have though of having lunch before work but some mornings I am out and go straight to work. Otherwise I would have to have lunch before 11am. It would be nice though to be able to sit down with the children as they have terrible eating habits and some of the 7 and 8 year olds still can't cut their own food up. Be good to socialise with them too.
    The main reason why I don't want to change to an extra early lunch with a long time before tea is that I suffer from IBS and any change in eating habits aggravates it.
    As the current situation is within the law then there is not anything that I can do except skip lunch.
     
  9. This situation is unacceptable. As the health and safety officer in my school I have stated that no-one, and that includes adults should eat walking around. Also walking around does not give the children a good role model. Also you should contact your health and safety officer because of your medical condition they should be able to recommend that you have your lunch after your MSA time.
     
  10. R13

    R13 New commenter

    I feel there are two issues here which are getting confused.
    Issue 1 is should someone have a meal break when they work less than a 4 hour day - the answer to that is 'No' i'm afraid. It's obviously a lot more difficult as the few hours each day you work fall exactly when you would (Not unreasonably) want your lunch - but any law must apply to everyone and as such working for 4 hours without a break isn't considered too long - many people do it and in law I think you can be made to work longer than that.
    Issue 2 - should MDSA eat with the children? This is a metter for the school and if the Head doesn't feel it is a good idea I can appreciate that - though I would hope that the Head would be gracious enough to hear another point of view and consider the matter once again.
    I'd suggest if you are going to raise the matter with your Head or Line Manager you should consider which one is your priority. There is a risk otherwise that you may be percieved to be talking about what is best for the kids whilst thinking about what you want for yourself. (I am not suggesting that is the truth - just warning the if you are trying to persuade others of your view you'd be best placed if there wasn't a percieved conflict of interest.
    <u>If </u>your school decides that they don't want MDSAs to eat with the kids then you should expect not to be allowed to eat when they want you to work - in just the same way as a teacher shouldn't be eating in a lesson you shouldn't be eating when your attention should be on supervision.
     
  11. tamtams

    tamtams New commenter

    Just re-read your post Lilhoneybunch and I have read it wrong. I thought you were working at the school in the mornings as well. So I also do not think you would be entitled to a break as other posts have said.
     
  12. Just for clarification you need to work 6 hours or more before you have a break, which can be just 20 minutes. There is not a set time of day for workers to take a meal break.
     
  13. I used to do the same hours as you and I used to either eat after my hours had finished or before. We would never be allowed to eat during working hours at all.

    However when I started doing full time plus lunchtimes - we were allowed a 15min break to eat lunch, after the childrens lunchtime.
     
  14. Yes, I can understand why we are not entitled to lunch. I am in an unfortunate situation at the moment. I have to leave home at 11am to get to school at 11.45 as it is 3/4 hour walk. It is too early to eat before I leave but by the time I have reached school, put out twelve heavy tables and put them away again, I am already feeling faint and shaky. Having to go through the afternoon and with PE on two afternoons I am totally washed out before my 3/4 hour walk home again. I must say though today I was so desperate, I took a roll and ate it in the toilet cubicle!
     
  15. I can completely understand why the HT doesn't want you standing around eating. They're paying you to work not eat your lunch.
    The previous posters are correct that you are not entitled to a break.
    How about you having a bigger breakfast, leaving slightly earlier for work, then having a light snack such as a roll and an apple when you arrive at work, then another snack as soon as you finish ? This would put you on until your evening meal.
    It's not ideal but you are paid to work during the lunchtime period, therefore you need to eat before or after this period.
    As you now work after the lunchtime period that only leaves before.
    Other than that then you'll have to walk round with your sandwich outside. Not brilliant but I can't see any other way round it. Lots of staff who work full time chose to do paid lunch duties to boost their pay and this is what they have to do.

     
  16. A long time ago I did MDS and worked during the afternoon as a ta. I ate my lunch in the staff room at around 11.30 -11.45 so that I was ready for 12 when the children began their lunch. You have no legal right to a break as everyone has stated, and sorry to sound so unkind, but eating just before starting will not have any adverse effects on you. I had my breakfast at 7 a.m. followed by my lunch just before starting work and I, too, have IBS. The lengthy delay between your breakfast and 'lunch-time' food is probably what is making things worse and if you are starting to feel shaky as you said, then that is your body telling you to eat. Don't wait until 'lunchtime', eat when you are hungry. If you can't get to school for 11.30 then why don't you eat whilst walking to school?
     
  17. I must be lucky - I work 8.45 to 3.15 as a TA and as Midday Meal Supervisor. I get a 15 min morning break, another 15 mins before midday and 15 mins for lunch after my MMS shift - all paid.
     
  18. Unfortunately as others have said you are paid to work those 3 1/2 hours and you would be expected to arrange your schedule so you can eat before or after those hours. If you are paid to supervise and assist children with their lunches then I'm afraid you sitting down to eat your lunch could be seen to restrict your duties - I imagine the lunch supervisors have more than one table to supervise and that it would be quite a mobile role.
    I start work at 8 (usually start earlier) and my lunch is not till 1pm which can seem a long time on hungry days but I wouldn't expect to be allowed to eat my lunch 'on the job'. I do sympathise with your IBS but people in all manner of positions have to manage to eat at strange times - night shift workers or people on different shift patterns.
     

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