Teaching assistants play a vital role in the classroom, supporting children and working alongside teachers to create a nurturing and supportive school environment.
They’re not well paid for this vital work, yet they give so much to their schools – often far above and beyond the hours or the responsibilities that they’re contracted to work – because they care about the children they work with.
Yet many teaching assistants have been rewarded for this dedication and commitment by having their wages slashed.
This morning in Durham, teaching assistants are protesting against plans to slash salaries by up to 23% for almost 3,000 people. That’s a pay cut for many of between £1,000 and £5,000.
The changes are being introduced because the council wants to start paying teaching assistants only for term time, but without seriously looking at ways of addressing proposed pay cuts as happened at other local authorities – something that would never be done to teachers.
And whilst the cuts councils are facing are brutal and deep – and no-one knows that more than UNISON members to keep our public services afloat – who would actively and willingly pursue an approach that penalises the low paid who care for our children?
Durham County Council’s proposals to slash teaching assistants’ pay are disgraceful. They’ll hurt schools, children and teaching assistants. And they’ll make it harder for those working in schools to keep on doing jobs that they love.
When Durham councillors meet next week, they should think again about this senseless cut. And those councils currently considering similar action should do likewise. For our the sake of our communities, our schools – and our children.