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Assistants - not absentee cover

The report by the Equal Opportunities Commission on classroom assistants, Valuable Assets, was published in May 2007. Since then, the Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities have been remarkably quiet. Your news item, "Assistants 'exploited', says union" (January 4), again raises the issue of classroom assistants and their role.

Isobel Hutton, the education spokesperson for COSLA, is quoted as saying: "No one has the authority to ask classroom assistants to cover for teachers - if there are any abuses, we would want to know."

Surely it is up to COSLA to be proactive and find out what is happening and make it clear to headteachers that classroom assistants should not be used to cover for absent teachers. Local authorities should check on returns for absences and supply cover and, if they find classroom assistants are being misused, they should take appropriate action.

Valuable Assets made 10 key recommendations. Is it not time that these were revisited and acted upon?

Maureen Laing senior professional officer (Scotland), Professional Association of Teachers and Professionals Allied to Teaching.

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