Raising the profile of teaching assistants

Tristram Hunt (r) talks with teaching assistants as UNISON head of education and children’s services Jon Richards listens


UNISON has recommitted itself to raising the profile and professional standing of teaching assistants.

Working with the National Education Trust, the union is developing a career framework and professional standards for teaching assistants and yesterday, a group of them met shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt and Labour MP Alex Cunningham, a member of the education select committee, to discuss this work.

Mr Hunt spoke highly of the valuable role that teaching assistants can play in the classroom and agreed that there is work to be done on the training, support and deployment of these staff.

To ignore this, he said, would be more costly in the long run than addressing the issue now.

Mr Hunt also said that he would be making the case to the Treasury for a “decent and reflective salary system for teaching support staff”.

Mr Cunninghan noted that he would certainly support professional standards for teaching assistants.

He also acknowledged the issue of term-time contracts, which sees teaching assistants and other school support staff only being paid for part of the year, unlike their teacher colleagues who are paid for the full year.

He called for “a living wage, all year round”.

Key issue: Speaking up for teaching assistants

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