Assistants are worth more

2nd June 2000 at 01:00
I AGREE that classroom assistants are being used as a cheap option (TES, April 28).

I am a qualified teacher and, unusually, have worked both as a secondary learning support teacher and a learning support assistant. The duties and responsibilities of both jobs are the same and even the staff are not aware of the differences.

But as a teacher I am paid pound;17 an hour compared to pound;8 as an assistant. This was highlighted when the needs of a pupil I had supported for five hours a week as a teacher changed and I had to support him as an assistant for 10 hours a week for less money.

The assistants' role has since been more clearl defined. They are expected to support a pupil, complement and support the teacher, discuss, plan and write individual education plans, be present at reviews but are still only paid for the hours when actually in the classroom. The trend now seems to be to employ more assitants and fewer teachers.

There are many different types of special needs entering mainstream schools now. Ideally an assistant needs to have knowledge of all these to support pupils in the most effective way.

The responsibility is considerable and I would have thought worthy of a higher rate of pay.

Elizabeth Passarello

4 Fox Hill, Bath

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