Teaching assistants will today (Tuesday), meet with Education minister Jeremy Miles, to urge him to prioritise tackling the poor working conditions of school staff in Wales.
The minister will be attending UNISON Cymru Wales’ School Support Staff Forum and will hear how the majority of teaching assistants (TAs) suffer low pay, a lack of career opportunities and part-time, casual working, dominate.
A level one teaching assistant employed on a term-time only contract takes home just £12,000 and UNISON warns the new National Insurance tax next year could potentially wipe out any pay rise they receive this year.
Schools cannot survive without teaching assistants; they support special educational needs children and those underperforming, help teachers to cope with big classes, release teachers for preparation time and assist those with English as an additional language.
UNISON wants the minister to appoint an official responsible for implementing a proper training and career structure for TAs, with fair pay and conditions, uniformly applied across the whole of Wales.
Pembrokeshire school worker and chair of the UNISON Cymru Wales school support staff forum, Jonathan Lewis, said,
“School support staff are vital to a school’s success and they proved their dedication throughout the pandemic, keeping school hubs open for vulnerable children and those of key workers, whilst others shielded safely at home. Too many are suffering very low pay.
“If nationally agreed, uniform rates of pay are right for teachers, they are right for teaching assistants too.
“Twenty-two local authorities each setting the rates of pay of their teaching assistants is a mess and experience and responsibility are not always recognised in the pay structure. Some TAs work without a proper written job description; you can have the same job title doing very different duties, receiving vastly different pay across Wales.
“Welsh Ministers have for years agreed in principle that a national structure for TAs and all support staff is necessary. Now’s the time for action.”
School support staff representatives will also press the Education minister about whether face-coverings should be re-introduced for older learners, staff and visitors in schools, given the rapid rising Covid cases a few days into the autumn term.
Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97