Scotland celebrates classroom assistants

Teaching assistant with school children


UNISON Scotland is calling on parents, students and teachers to support of the vital contribution made by hard-working classroom assistants, as part of today’s national celebration day. 

The union, which represents classroom assistants, is campaigning for all school support staff to be rewarded for their tireless work through a proper career structure and better pay, terms and conditions.

With the dedicated help of classroom assistants, children who would otherwise struggle get support to keep them in mainstream education.

The focus of the campaign at UK level is the threat from the coalition government to phase out the role of teaching assistants.

While this role does not exist as such in Scotland, classroom assistants (and similar job titles) undertake a huge and varied range of tasks in Scottish schools.

Job titles for support roles in Scottish schools vary significantly, as does the range of work, but classroom assistant is a common generic title.

Independent research by the Equal Opportunities Commission (see link below) and others shows that Scottish classroom assistants are working at high levels of responsibility – including planning and organising learning activities.

“As local government is bearing the brunt of spending cuts in Scotland, school staff are facing growing demands to do more for less,” says UNISON Scotland education chair, Carol Ball.

“Their pay is being squeezed, and they are working an increasing number of unpaid hours as staff who leave are not replaced.

“In addition, as the Glasgow dispute demonstrates, they are being forced to take on new roles without adequate training.”

 The Glasgow dispute is over pupil support assistants, instructors and care workers who are being forced to undertake specialist healthcare tasks, including the administration of medicine, in addition to their core duties

UNISON also welcomed Scottish Parliament Motion S4M-0842 submitted by Jayne Baxter MSP, (Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour) and urged all MSPs to support the motion.

The motion, Celebrating Classroom Assistants, notes that the Parliament “considers that classroom assistants in Scotland make a valuable contribution” welcomes their posit positive impact, welcomes UNISON’s role in speaking up for the many of its 160,000 members who are classroom assistants, and “supports UNISON’s Celebration Day on 29 November 2013, which recognises the difference made by classroom and teaching assistants to the education and support of children in schools across the UK.”

Scottish Parliament Motion S4M-0826 [external link, opens in new window]

EOC report: Valuable assets:  a formal investigation into the role and status of classroom assistants in Scottish schools [PDF, opens in new window]

UNISON in Scotland [opens in new window]

UNISON Scotland press release on Glasgow dispute (18 November [opens in new window])

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UNISON in education