Teaching assistants demand minimum £2,000 pay rise

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Unions representing teaching assistants and other school support staff have submitted a pay claim demanding a pay boost of at least £2,000.

UNISON, GMB and Unite want a pay increase from April 2023 of either £2,000 or the current rate of inflation (which stands at 11% according to the RPI), whichever is higher for each individual.

The claim covers 1.4 million council employees, including teaching assistants, wider school support staff, and other professionals like library staff, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Many of these employees are in low-paid roles and are paid little more than the minimum wage.

The three unions say that 27.5% has been wiped off the value of pay for these workers since 2010.

If successful, the pay rise would lift all council and school employees back above the real living wage of £9.90 per hour (outside London).

School support staff are paid according to the local government pay spine and the National Agreement on Pay and Conditions of Service – otherwise known as the Green Book. Academies can set their own pay policies although in reality many follow the Green Book as well.

This year, the National Joint Council for Local Government Services implemented a “cost of living” increase of 1.75% from April 2021 for pay spine points 2 and above, with staff on the lowest point of the scale getting 2.75%.

It means that point 1 of the pay spine currently stands at £18,333 per year outside London.

Most teaching assistants will be earning at the lower end of the pay spine, although qualified staff will earn more, including those with additional specialisms or SEN duties.

However, it must be remembered that many school support staff are only paid during term-time, meaning that for some annual pay is more likely to be around £14,000.

As part of its pay agreement, the NJC has agreed to restart its review of term-time only working arrangements, which was paused due to Covid.

The three unions had rejected last year’s pay offer, demanding a minimum of 10% on all spinal column points but to no avail.

UNISON’s head of local government Mike Short said: “If the pandemic showed anything, it was that council workers provide invaluable services to keep communities safe. Time and again they went above and beyond to look after people in their area.

“But they can’t run services on thin air. Many staff are struggling to make ends meet and unless they’re paid properly, many will decide to quit for better paid work elsewhere.

“Employers and the government need to invest properly in the local government and school workforce to ensure the important services on which everyone relies are fit for the future.”

GMB national secretary Rehana Azam added: “We have school members that are regularly working at levels above what they are being paid for and struggling to put food on the table at home. We have carers delivering care in the community that are facing increasing expenses for having to use their car for work.”

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