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More assistance for assistants

I AM a special support assistant working in a small rural primary school. I have a temporary contract as I have one-to-one duties with a pupil with special educational needs. Therefore, when the pupil leaves, my post becomes obsolete.

I have always striven to be a valuable part of the classroom team. To this end I attended the NCFE classroom assistant's course during the evening at my local college.

This year, to achieve more advanced qualifications, for the benefit of myself, and ultimately the school and pupils, I am attending the CLANDA course. Again the sessions are held in the evening at a college some distance from my home. As advised by the Department for Education and Skills, I approached the education advisory service for assistance with the course funding from the standards fund. But shock, horror I am not entitled to any money. I am on a temporary contract and was told "we give preference to applications from permanent staff". I suspect a large proportion of SSAs are on temporary contracts.

The cost of these training courses can be more than a month's take-home pay for assistants. And as I see it, without those of us who are willing and able to afford the luxury of attending and gaining these more advanced qualifications, the position of the SSA within school will always be regarded as less valuable than that of the teaching staff.

Isn't it about time funding was provided for those of us who, regardless of our contract title, are willing to travel and train in our own time?

Julie Turner Seifton Villa Culmington Ludlow, Shropshire

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