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Letters Extra: Classroom assistants are taking over

2003 has been a very sad year for teacher trade unionism. I know that some trade unions like to call themselves professional associations in the current climate, but as someone who joined the NASUWT in 1966 because they wanted to improve the pay and conditions of teachers, I am appalled by the deafening silence from the ATL and NASUWT on the so-called school workforce agreement.

It is perfectly clear to me that the Blair government fully intend to give teaching 'powers' to classroom assistants. Faced with a chronic teacher shortage and absence in our city schools in particular, classroom assistants are currently being asked by Heads tonbsp;'cover' classes.

In a majority of schools in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire there has been a rush to appoint support staff for the summer term and beyond. The 'mums army', as it has been called, is cheaper thannbsp; employing teachers and many of these mums are more competent than the 'ragbag' of supply teachers who amazingly seem to stream out of the woodwork all the time.

Thank goodness the NUT trade union is prepared to put its money where its mouth is and campaign against the dilution of the teaching profession.

Tonynbsp; Callaghannbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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