Non-contact confusion in classrooms

There seems to be an awful lot of confusion about cover for planning, preparation and assessment time.

At our school the teaching assistants cover it but are not paid anything over their normal grade. At another school (in the same authority) they are not asked to cover until they have completed higher-level teaching assistant (HLTA) training and will be paid the appropriate rate.

Are schools allowed to give planning time to teachers without paying properly for cover? Is it legal and safe for lower grades to have the responsibility? Would parents be happy? Are parents fully aware of the situation?

Also, people are applying to start higher-level training without having the required GCSE English and maths, and at least one person I know has been accepted onto the course. Why say that you have to have certain qualifications to go through the assessment process if you don't?

As an assistant I find this all very confusing. I love my job and would do anything to support the school and other staff but I do feel that they take advantage of us when it comes to PPA time. Of course we have to step into the breach occasionally but these are regular planned sessions I'm talking about.

I realise there are two issues here but they are connected and I assume that higher-level assistants are to be used to fill the void created by PPA time.

At our school we are supported in applying for HLTA status, but have been told that there isn't any money to pay us if we get it. So, have the LEAs been given any extra funding that has been earmarked for HLTAs? After all, there are supposed to be thousands of TAs up and down the country who are now training.

This seems to be one of those subjects that has a lot of grey areas and even more unanswered questions. There do not seem to be any definitive answers. I think both heads and TAs would like to know where they stand.

Beverley Kennedy

16 The Dovecot Charlton Nr Pershore Worcestershire

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