While teaching assistants play a valuable role in schools and should be encouraged to consider progressing to teaching if they so wish, the process must ensure that the quality of teachers entering the profession is protected. Requiring applicants to have graduate status is part of this protection of standards.
Therefore the situation is perfectly fair: the teaching assistants described in the article are entitled to study for a degree, and, if successful, continue towards teaching.
Requiring aspirant teachers to have a degree ensures they themselves are able to learn and have the academic ability needed to plan, teach and assess learning: no amount of experience as a teaching assistant can be considered equivalent to this. The teaching assistant quoted who considers her classroom experience as equal in value to a philosophy degree has a lot to learn.
Michael Gallagher Headteacher St Cuthbert's RC primary Sunderland