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Most dream of pound;8,500 a year

I am always intrigued when reading reports about teaching assistants' wages (TES, September 17).

I would like to point out that many teaching assistants would be delighted with a salary of pound;8,500 per annum! The reality is that the majority are probably earning around pound;5,000 or less.

I love my job and consider myself to be reasonably well paid for a teaching assistant, but that is as a grade 3 at 27 hours per week.I work more hours than that but unpaid as many TAs do.

As a grade 3 (there are only four grades), I earn around your headline figure - in our LEA most teaching assistant jobs are for grade 1s or 2s for anything from five to 25 hours a week and they will earn considerably less.

Most TAs are paid for only term-time weeks - this immediately reduces your income from the publicised rates of pay, then pay is reduced further pro rata to the exact minute in your contract.

Many teachers are unaware of the way TAs' pay is calculated, and presume we are paid for a full year as they are.

On top of this, contracts are often temporary and can be, and are, altered according to the school's budget. Alterations to hours and pay are made to permanent contracts, too. This makes planning financially very difficult while also conveying uncertainty of employment.

While many teachers do work in the school holidays, there are some that do not work at all and most certainly take more than four full weeks off work a year - so why are they paid a full year while we are paid for the exact hoursminutes worked in the school year?

Teaching assistants are not looking for the same rate of pay as teachers; we recognise the difference in our roles, but is one any less important than the other?

All that most teaching assistants want is equality in the way we are paid.

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