Teaching assistants play a vital role in classrooms up and down the country. The position is a rewarding and flexible one, but also a fantastic way to gain classroom experience before going into teacher training.
TAs will largely find themselves either working with the whole class, working with small groups or working with individual pupils, however the most common set up is that the TA works with small groups of children.
Teaching assistant contracts
TA employment conditions are either set by the local authority or by the school in accordance with LA guidance and there are a variety of types of contract used:
- Permanent all year
- Temporary all year
- Permanent term time
- Temporary term time
According to Unison research, amongst local authorities the vast majority of TAs are on term-time or casual contracts. However, there is a considerable variety in the types of contracts used, with individual schools often employing TAs on at least two different kinds of contract. Casual contracts are most likely to apply to TAs taken on to work with a specific child.
Teaching assistant pay
Unlike teachers, support staff do not have the reassurance of national pay scales and pay varies across the country and across schools. Pay and conditions are determined by the school, if you work in an academy, and by the local authority if you work in a community school.
There was talk of setting up a national pay scale for support staff back in 2009-10, however, the organisation that was working towards a national pay structure, the School Support Staff Negotiating Body, was disbanded in 2010 by Michael Gove because it “did not fit well with the government’s priorities for greater deregulation”.
Teaching assistants are most likely to be on a limited pay scale ranging from a minimum of point 6 or 7 on the local government pay scale (around £13,600) to a maximum scale point of 13 (around £15,900).
Working out what TAs actually get paid can be complicated though as variations in hours and term-time working usually mean that actual pay is less than what a full-time, full-year worker gets on the relevant scale point. According to Unison, the average annual salary for a TA is £12,081.
Term-time working can mean TAs are paid on the basis of a 38- or 39-hour working year plus four or five weeks' holiday. However, there are plenty of variations on this and a term time year can mean anything from 43 to 49.5 weeks, including paid leave.
Holiday allowances for teaching assistants
If you’re on a permanent full-time contract then you’ll get school holidays as paid leave. However, most TAs are on term-time-only contracts, which means you don’t get paid for school holidays but should get four or five weeks holiday a year. Annual leave entitlement can sometimes go up according to your years of service.
Sick pay and pensions
Teaching Assistants should be eligible to join the local authority sick pay and pension scheme.
Union membership for teaching assistants
It’s not compulsory for teaching assistants to join a union but it is advisable. You can join one of the local government unions – Unison, GMB or Unite. You can also join the teaching union National Education Union as a support staff member.
For more advice from other TAs on which union to join read this conversation on the Tes teaching assistant forum.
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