News just in suggests the Department for Education (DfE) is not going to publish the teaching assistant standards for England that a special panel was set up to draft.
UNISON called for the standards and began work on them. After a debate on standards for TAs in parliament the government set up a review panel to look at producing new standards. UNISON was represented by HLTA Karen Jackson and the union was consulted directly by the DfE.
Reports from the group made it clear that UNISON and allies were driving forward the review and we were pleased that by the start of 2014 a final set of standards was ready.
Unfortunately, the standards got caught up in pre-election coalition wrangles and weren’t published.
UNISON was hopeful that when the new government came in they would see it as a good opportunity to win favour with support staff – having all but ignored them for the previous five years.
Our concern grew over the summer as we were repeatedly told that ministers were still considering matters.
Then, last week, schools minister Nick Gibb slipped out the following answer to a parliamentary question:
“Ministers have considered the latest evidence on the effective deployment and professional development of teaching assistants, together with a summary of the call for evidence and the draft teaching assistant standards submitted by the expert panel.
“In the light of this evidence, the government believes that schools are best placed to decide how they use and deploy teaching assistants, and to set standards for the teaching assistants they employ. The Secretary of State has therefore decided not to publish the draft standards.”
The government did not have the courtesy to tell us their plans, nor the panel who worked hard to draw up the standards of their plans, before their announcement.
They have shown again that they rarely see beyond teachers and that they view support staff as second class. UNISON will not stop campaigning for proper professional recognition for support staff – we will not let these standards die and will push for standards for all support staff.