Negotiations started this week on a new cost-of-living pay rise for school support staff, including around 260,000 teaching assistants.
Following the pay rise for teachers of 2.75 per cent announced on Monday, a pay rise of 10 per cent, or a wage of at least £10 an hour, is now being sought for TAs and support staff, who make up around half of the staff in schools.
Jon Richards, national secretary at Unison, which represents around half of TAs in England, said it was “a bold claim,” but he added: “Our members are some of the lowest-paid members of the public sector, and we’re determined that they shouldn’t be any longer.”
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The negotiations began on Wednesday through the National Joint Council for Local Government Services, made up of representatives from trade unions and local government employers.
Better pay for school support staff
Mr Richards said it was hoped that negotiations would add a percentage to the agreed national pay spine, which applies to all school support staff, including business managers, technicians, cleaners and caretakers.
And he called on the government to fully-fund any pay rise, which he said would otherwise have “implications” for school budgets.
Under last year’s pay deal, support staff received different pay rises (of between 4.4 per cent at the top and 16 per cent at the bottom) due to a restructuring of the pay spine to make it more even.
This amounted to an estimated increase to the overall schools’ wage bill for support staff of around 5.8 per cent.
But Mr Richards said it wasn’t funded by any extra cash from the government, which, he said, “hoped schools would just take the hit”.
Sara Ford, deputy director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said there was an argument as to whether support staff pay should be a consideration of the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), which makes recommendations to government on teachers' pay.
She said: "There should be appropriate allocation for support staff pay within the overall funding envelope for schools.
"School funding has got to account for the fact that this is going to be a liability that is going to come along every single year."
Earlier this week, unions and headteachers expressed anger at the DfE's offer to fund just 0.75 per cent of the 2.75 teacher pay rise, with some claiming cash-strapped schools would have to make redundancies come September.
The DfE has been contacted for comment.