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Cumbria's teaching assistants have pay cuts lessened after review

Pay cuts for Cumbria’s 3,500 teaching assistants will be less severe than they feared.

The group were big losers under Cumbria County Council’s single-status review with some facing pay cuts of 20 per cent or more from October.

The proposals provoked an outcry and led the council to set up a working group to review teaching assistants’ roles and responsibilities.

Its findings, published yesterday, have lessened the pay cuts although most teaching assistants will still be worse off.

Senior teaching assistants, the largest group, were facing a 23.1 per cent pay cut. It will now be 7.75 per cent.

Steph Smith, a senior teaching assistant at Robert Ferguson Primary School in Carlisle, shed a tear when she saw the findings of the review. She said: “It’s more positive than I thought. There will be a small minority who are going to find fault but I am really happy with the outcome.

“I know of five teaching assistants who have left because of single status. The amount of money we were set to lose was huge and a lot of people couldn’t live on that.

“Some have panicked and jumped ship and I think a lot more would have followed. That won’t happen now.”

The working group, which included teachers and trades unions, has also come up with a new career structure. The grades of classroom assistant and principal teaching assistant will go leaving teaching assistants, senior and higher-level teaching assistants.

The council has pledged to help staff move up through the grades. Schools also have the option to pay teaching assistants for work outside school hours such as running breakfast or after-school clubs. This could wipe out the pay cuts and allow some staff to get a modest pay rise.

The working group believes the new structure better reflects the professional contribution of teaching assistants and identifies new areas of responsibility.

Deborah Hamilton, branch secretary for the public-sector union Unison, expressed disappointment that the lowest paid teaching assistants were still facing a 16.2 per cent pay cut.

She added: “Unison members campaigned rigorously to make the council see sense and review their scores under job evaluation and the results [of this review] show that they were right – they had been undervalued.”

Speaking for headteachers, Viv Young, head of Ennerdale and Kinniside Primary, said she was “delighted” with the outcome. And Councillor Liz Mallinson, the county council cabinet member for organisational development, said: “We have achieved significant improvements for teaching assistants in terms of career structure and pay.”

Have your say

How can anyone possibly think a TA job is unskilled? I'm studying communication and language impairment in children and it's effects on learning. 54% of the nation-wide programs used to help children develop communication abilities, and therefore accesss to LEARNING (vital, obviously) are delivered SOLELY by TAs. 26% of the programs are delivered by TAs and teachers together.
Care to argue with those statistics?

Posted by Ali on 3 April 2012 at 15:12

Well done Unison for fighting the TA's corner - what about the admin and other support staff in schools who are losing money but also work many long, unpaid hours!! :(

Posted by Anon on 28 March 2012 at 19:09

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