Monthly Archives: November 2013

Teaching Assistants Celebrated As a Class Act

UNISON will today (29 November) be celebrating the invaluable contribution made by teaching assistants to local schools.TA Group

Most schools couldn’t operate without teaching assistants, yet their role is often not fully understood or recognised. UNISON is campaigning for teaching assistants to be rewarded through a proper career structure and better pay, terms and conditions. There is a complex mix of TA responsibilities with an overlap between pastoral, administrative and teaching duties.

The celebration day is part of a wider campaign spearheaded by UNISON, the UK’s largest education trade union, to speak up for teaching assistants and celebrate the positive impact they have on children’s learning and development.
The roles TAs play in the classroom are varied but they are all vital, such as giving targeted help to pupils with special educational needs, supporting children with complex health needs, providing pastoral support to children or supporting teachers with lesson preparation. With the dedicated help of TAs, children get support to keep them in mainstream education who would otherwise struggle.
Sonya Howard, Branch Secretary said:
“Teaching assistants are a class act and schools could not run without them. Children and young people trust their teaching assistants and often turn to them when they are struggling at school with their learning or social wellbeing. By working with an individuals or small groups, a teaching assistant can gain the confidence of a child and help them to achieve their full potential. That is a really special skill and we are celebrating that today.”

A UNISON survey earlier this year that showed 95% of head teachers believed TAs added value to schools. They said that a reduction in the number of teaching assistants would impact on children with special education and health needs, on teachers, and the running of schools.

Jon Richards, UNISON head of education, said:
“They often work long, unpaid hours and have insecure employment contracts and are badly paid for what they do. We are working towards improved career structures and professional standards for all TAs – wherever they work – and want to ensure that they are appropriately trained and deployed. Today we are celebrating the positive contribution of TAs to our schools.”

More information on tasks teaching assistants perform
Working with individual pupils, small groups and children with special needs
Administering medicines (e.g. for diabetic children)
Adapting resources for disabled students
Supervising classes for absent teachers & managing other classroom support staff
Supporting pupils’ social and emotional well-being
Monitoring, assessing and recording pupil data
Running breakfast and after-school clubs & supervising lunch and play times
Invigilating exams and tests.

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2014-15 NJC Pay Claim Presented to the Employers

As NJC Trade Union Side has submitted the following claim for a pay increase for our members in 2014-15:

A minimum increase of £1 an hour on scale point 5 to achieve the LivingPay Matters Wage and the same flat rate increase on all other scale points

At the NJC Executive meeting held on 5 November UNISON, GMB and Unite presented the written claim which you can read in full here.

Below are some of the key arguments made in the claim and made to the Employers at the meeting:-

Local government (NJC) pay

• Over 1 million NJC workers (two thirds) earn less than £21,000 a year and 472,000 earn less than the Living Wage outside London

• Local government pay (NJC) is the lowest in the public sector – from top to bottom of the pay spine

Pay freeze kills earnings since 2010

• If pay had just kept up with inflation since 2010, those earning £6.45 an hour on the bottom scale point 5 would now be earning £7.53 – above the Living Wage outside London

• If the National Minimum Wage increases as Ministers would like, it will be 49 pence – 62 pence above the bottom NJC rate of £6.45

NJC workers’ pay was frozen in 2010, 2011 and 2012 – one year before other public sector workers

Benefit cuts hit the lowest paid NJC workers

• Even if the majority of NJC workers on in-work benefits were being paid the Living Wage in 2013, they would still be worse off than in 2010 because of benefit cuts

Cuts to pay-related conditions hit pay packets hard too

• Over 60% of councils have cut car allowances and many of our members are subsidising travel for work purposes

• Many councils have cut unsocial hours and overtime payments – hitting the lowest paid hard

• At the same time, many are imposing car park charges, closing workplace canteens and refusing to pay the increase in professional registration fees

• Some councils have also cut sick pay, basic pay and redundancy pay

• Others have imposed unpaid holidays or cut annual leave

Part-time workers subsidise their employers

• 60% of part-time workers work unpaid overtime each week

• 60% of them work half a day or more each week unpaid to get the job done

£1 an hour for all is affordable and good for the economy

• Increased tax and National Insurance revenue from meeting our claim could be re-cycled from the Treasury to local government to pay for the £1 an hour pay increase

• Council reserves have increased by 20% since 2010-11 while NJC workers’ pay has fallen by 18%

• Councils chose to ‘bank’ £2.6 billion in the last year. That would pay for a 10% pay increase for local government workers

• Local government workers spend 50 pence of every £1 they earn in their local economies. A £1 an hour increase would boost the economy across England, Wales and Northern Ireland

• Every £1 of public spending generates £0.9 – £1.7 of wealth according to the IMF (2012)

Inflation to stay high and hit the low paid hardest

• Inflation is predicted to remain at 3% during 2014 and increase to 3.4% in 2017. A pay award below 3% will be a further pay cut for our members

• Average gas and electricity prices are due to rise by 8.2% over the coming year

• NJC workers earning less than £15,000 would have to spend a whole year’s pay on full-time childcare for one child

• Inflation hits the lowest paid hardest: Increases in the cost of essential household items mean inflation of 41% for the lowest paid but 31% for the top 10%

Gear Up for the Pay Campaign!

The Employers responded by saying that they will now start their consultation exercise on the pay claim. They will be holding regional meetings and seeking councils’ responses by 31 January 2014.

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New Fair Deal Guidance

HM Treasury have published the New Fair Deal guidance for England and Wales which applies where a public service is outsourced to a private orPension independent provider. This will apply to all service groups with the exception of water, energy and environment.

Under this guidance, staff whose employment is compulsorily transferred from the public sector to independent providers of public services under TUPE will generally have a right to continue to access to relevant public service pension arrangements, rather than a broadly comparable scheme as was previously the case.

The new guidance also confirms that where contracts involving staff covered by the existing Fair Deal policy are retendered there will be a presumption that staff should be offered access to the appropriate public service pension scheme.

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