Half of Welsh local authorities have now committed to paying the registration fees for school learning support workers, after concerted lobbying by UNISON Cymru Wales.
This week, Powys County Council became the eleventh authority to sign up, following similar decisions by Caerphilly, Merthyr, Cardiff, Bridgend, Swansea, Torfaen County, the Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Neath Port Talbot and Gwynedd councils.
UNISON will now use this momentum to encourage remaining authorities to pay registration fees also.
Learning support workers, or teaching assistants, do vital but unheralded jobs in our schools, supporting special educational needs and under-performing children and helping teachers cope with large classes.
From April 2016, all learning support workers in Wales will be required to be registered with the Education Workforce Council (EWC). The registration fee is an annual payment of £15 per person. As the union for school support staff, UNISON has been campaigning for local authorities to pay the registration fee for all learning support workers in Wales.
John Byrne, UNISON Powys County branch secretary said:
“We are delighted that Powys will pay the fees for these low-paid and hard-working individuals, who make such a contribution in our schools.
“The branch held a number of meetings to persuade the council on the merits of our case. And individual members felt very strongly and wrote to councillors urging them to commit to payment.”
Jess Turner, UNISON Cymru/Wales lead organiser for schools said: “Well done to Powys County Council. They have listened to the arguments of our local UNISON branch officers and recognised the need to pay the fees for learning support workers.
“Eleven councils have now acknowledged this as the right thing to do for low-paid workers in their schools. Their actions show that it is affordable for councils.
“Our message to the remaining Welsh local authorities who have not yet indicated they will pay is to make the commitment and work with UNISON to help school support staff. We will continue our campaigning efforts to ensure learning support workers get the fair recognition they deserve with decent training, a uniform career structure and fair pay.”