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Talking point

Assistants gave a mixed response to the new career structure. Kathryn Briggs of Brindishe primary in Lewisham said that demanding teaching assistants have more qualifications could put many off. "People with A-levels would probably rather go into teaching," she said. She also has concerns on pay differentials. "I don't think it's quite right to be on more than a qualified teacher. It might cause problems in some staffrooms."

Rosemary Kersey, senior assistant at Langdon secondary in Newham, London, said the new structure was a good way forward. "There is a lot of talent out there that is not being used. If assistants are experienced they deserve to earn as much as new teachers."

Leslie Pinner, of Monkspath primary in Solihull, said: "I don't think we'll ever earn as much as teachers but there does need to be a more formal career structure and assistants should be paid more."

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